SUGER'S LIFE OF KING LOUIS THE FAT
To the most reverend lord bishop of Soissons, Goslen, Suger by the patience of God abbot of St. Denis the areopagite, servant of God as best he can be, hoping to be united episcopally with the bishop of bishops.
We ought to submit ourselves and out works to the deliberation and judgement of those by whom, on the day of judgement, the sentence of love or hate will be pronounced according to deserts, when (Proverbs XXXI, 23) 'the noble man shall sit in the gates with the senators of this earth'. Therefore, best of men, even had you not occupied the episcopal throne, to which I am wholly devoted in Him to whom you are totally devoted - and I could say no more of you than that if you asked me to - I am sending to the decision of your approved wisdom the deeds of the most serene King of the French Louis. Thus, because he showed himself the most generous of lords in promoting us and also when we had been promoted, both I in writing and you in correcting may equally praise the man whom we have equally loved and whose death we equally lament and deplore. For friendship, even when it is born of benefits received, does not oppose charity, since He who ordered us to love our enemies did not forbid us to love our friends. So in payment of a double debt of gratitude and charity - although unequal not incompatible - let us erect him 'a monument more durable than bronze' (Horace, Odes III, 30, v. 1), when with my pen I describe his devotion to the church's worship of God and his marvellous zeal for the good of the kingdom, which the passage of time ought not to delete from
men's memory; nor should the ardent prayers of the interceding church cease from generation to generation, in acknowledgement of the great benefits it received from him.
May your highness occupy happily your episcopal throne among the senators of the sky.
How valiant he was in youth, and with what energy he repelled the king of the English, William Rufus, when he attacked Louis' inherited kingdom.
The glorious and famous king of the French Louis, son of the magnificent king Philip, in the first flower of his youth, barely then twelve or thirteen years ole, was elegant and handsome, and had achieved such progress, by praiseworthy development both of his character and of his fine body that he gave promise of a swift and honourable enlargement of his future kingdom and encouraged warm hopes that he would defend the churches and the poor. This highborn youth, in accordance with the ancient custom of Charlemagne and other great kings, attested by imperial charters, attached himself to the saintly martyrs and their servants at St. Denis, as if from a naturally sweet disposition. He prolonged this friendship with their church formed in his boyhood throughout his whole life, displaying great liberality and reverence; so much so that, at the end of his life, he placed his hope in them second only to God, and gave himself up to them, body and soul, with devotion and deliberation, so that, had it been possible, he would have become a monk there.
In his youth, growing courage matured his spirit with youthful vigour, making him bored with hunting and the boyish games with which others of his age used to enjoy themselves and forget the pursuit of arms. And when he was troubled by the attacks of many great men of the kingdom and of the outstanding and magnanimous king of the English William, son of the even more magnanimous king William the conqueror of the English, his stout heart exalted at the chance to prove himself, his courage smiled at the test, he banished inertia, opened the gates to prudence, put an end to leisure, increased his concern. William king of the English was skilled in military arts, avid for praise and eager for fame. After his elder brother Robert was disinherited, he was fortunate to succeed his father William; then, after Robert's departure for Jerusalem, he obtained the duchy of Normandy. there he put so much pressure on the Norman frontiers of the French kingdom that wherever he could he forced the renowned young prince to fight.
While they fought, similarities and dissimilarities between them came to light. They were alike in that neither would yield; they were dissimilar in that one was a mature man, the other a youth; one rich, prodigal with the treasures of England, a brilliant recruiter and paymaster of soldiers; the other lacking in money, sparing in expending the treasures of his inherited kingdom, only brought an army together by energetic hard work, yet resisted boldly. you might have seen that young man dashing across the frontiers, now into Berry, now into the Auvergne, now into Burgundy, with a handful of men, and returning just as quickly to the Vexin, if he judged it necessary, to confront with his three or five hundred men King William with his thousand; and the vicissitudes of war being uncertain, sometimes he yielded, sometimes he put his enemy to flight.
In these encounters many captives were taken on both sides; the famous youth and his men captured among many others, the count Simon, the noble baron William de l'Aigle, an equally illustrious figure in England and in Normandy, Pagan of Gisors, for whose benefit the castle of Gisors was fortified for the first time; and on the other side, the king of England captured the bold and noble count Matthew of Beaumont, the illustrious and renowned baron Simon de Montfort, and Lord Pagan of Montjay. But while anxiety about hiring soldiers ensured the swift redemption of those from England, the rigours of a very long captivity emaciated the Frenchmen. They could not by any means escape from their chains until they took homage of the English king, joined his service, and promised on oath to attack and disturb their own king and his kingdom.
It was commonly said that that proud and impetuous king aspired to the French throne, because the famous prince was his father's only son by his most noble wife, the sister of Robert count of Flanders. The king also had two sons, Philip and Florus, by his second wife Bertrada, countess of Anjou. But they were not regarded as successors, had some misfortune brought about the death of the only heir. But because it is neither right nor natural that the French should be subject to the English, but rather the English to the French, events played against this repulsive hope. For when this mad idea had tormented King William and his men for three years or more, he lost heart when he understood that neither through the English nor through the French who were bound to him by ties of homage could he prevail. He sailed back to England, where he gave himself up to lasciviousness and the desires of his heart. One day, when he was hunting in the New Forest, he was suddenly hit by a mis-aimed arrow and died.
It was perceived that he had been struck by divine revenge, for which the probable reason was thought to be that he had been an intolerable oppressor of the poor, a cruel depredator of churches and, on the deaths of bishops or prelates, an irreverent dissipator and keeper of their goods. Some accused the most noble man Walter Tyrell of having shot the arrow. But I have often heard this Tyrell, unconstrained by either hope or fear, swear and assert on oath that, that day he neither entered the part of the wood where the king was, nor saw him at all in the forest. So it is clear that when such a great folly and such a great personage suddenly disappears into ashes, it must be by divine power, which brings it about that he who so sorely troubled others should be mush more sorely tried, and he who coveted everything should be despoiled of all. For God, who 'unbelts the swordbelts of kings' (Job 12, 18) subjects kingdoms and the law of kingdoms to himself. His younger brother succeeded William with great haste, since the elder, Robert, was on the great expedition to the Holy Land. Henry was a most prudent man, whose admirable and praiseworthy strength of body and mind offer most pleasing material for a writer. But this is not to my purpose, which is only to touch on such matters incidentally, just as I shall say something briefly of the kingdom of Lotharingia; for I have set out to record in writing a history of the deeds of the Franks, not of the English.
How he restrained Bouchard de Montmorency, a noble man, and all his followers from attacking St. Denis.
The famous young man Louis grew up to be cheerful, agreeable and kind, to the point that some people though him simple. As a distinguished and courageous defender of his father's kingdom, he provided for the needs of churches, and - a thing which went right against recent custom - worked for the peace of monks, labourers and the poor.
Then there arose disputes over certain customs between Adam, the venerable abbot of St. Denis, and Burchard, the noble lord of Montmorency. The argument reached such a pitch of anger that, throwing off homage, the two one-time allies fought it out with sword and fire. When this reached the ears of the Lord Louis, moved by sharp indignation, without delay he forced Burchard to appear before his father to submit to judgement. When Bouchard had lost his case, he would not accept the judgement. He was not held in captivity - that is not the French custom; but after his departure he quickly found out what unpleasantness and misfortune the disobedience of subjects earns from the royal majesty. The famous youth brought up an army against him and his confederates - for Burchard had been joined by the valiant and belligerent Mathew, count of Beaumont and Drogo de Mouchy. Louis ravaged Bouchard's lands, he threw down the fortified places, ruined the outer defences, though not the keep of the castle, and gave everything over the fire, famine and the sword. Inside the castle, they tried to put up effective resistance. So with the French and Flemish solders brought by his uncle Robert, Louis besieged it. By these and other blows he subjected the humiliated Bouchard to his will and pleasure, and having obtained satisfaction he put an end to the quarrel that had caused the trouble.
Then he attacked Drogo de Mouchy to avenge this and other unprovoked attacks, especially those on the church of Beauvais. Louis met him, surrounded by a great force of archers and crossbowmen, only a short distance from his castle, so that his flight should be shorter if he was beaten. Louis rushed against hi, prevented him from returning to the castle by forced of arms, and then dashed into the midst of the enemy and though the gate. Great champion and distinguished swordsman that he was, in the castle he was frequently struck and frequently struck others; yet he would neither withdraw nor permit himself to be repulsed until he had totally captured and reduced to cinders the whole castle up to the turret. Such was the ardour of the prince that he took no pains to get away from the fire even when it became dangerous to him and his army and made him very hoarse. And thus, having humbled his enemy to the arm of God in whose name he fought, he subjugated him as if were a sick man, and subdued him to his will.
How Count Matthew of Beaumont was forced to restore the castle of Luzarches to Hugh of Clermont when the Lord Louis had besieged that castle with powerful forces.
Meanwhile Count Matthew of Beaumont, inspired by long bitterness, moved against his father-in-law Hugh of Clermont, a noble man but pliant and rather simple; he totally occupied the castle of Luzarches, half of which was his as a result of him marriage agreement, and planned to defend the tower with arms and armed men. What could Hugh do? Hastening to the defender of the realm, he prostrated himself at his feet in tears and besought him that he should help an old man, giving aid to one so seriously troubled. "I would rather," he said, "my gracious lord, that you should have all my land, since I hold of you, than that my unworthy son-in-law should have it. If he takes it from me, I shall wish to die." Deeply moved by his sorrowful troubles, Louis put out his hand in friendship, promised him help and sent him home in joyful hope. And his hope was not misplayed.
At once messengers left the court to meet the count and order him, in the name of the king, to return in the ordinary way the land he had extraordinarily despoiled; the legal case would be discussed on a fixed day at the royal court. When Matthew refused to obey, the defender of the realm hastened to vengeance; gathering together a large army, to set forth and approached the castle; he fought both with arms and with fire, took the castle with a great affray, put a garrison into the tower, and returned it defended to Hugh, just as he had begged.
How when he was besieging another castle belonging to the same Matthew, Chambly, a sudden storm forced his army to flee; how without Louis' valiant resistance his army would have been all but wiped out; and how Matthew humbly gave him satisfaction.
In the same way, he led his army against another of the count's castles called Chambly, pitched tent and ordered the siege engines to be brought up. But his hoped were totally dashed. The weather, which had been good, changed to wet and windy, then a violent storm broke out, with drenching rain, and the whole land was disturbed at night by the chorus of thunder-peals, which scattered the army and frightened the horses so much that some people thought they should scarcely survive.
In the face of this appalling horror, part of the army prepared at dawn to take flight. While Louis was still sleeping in his pavilion, they craftily set fire to the tents. Because this was the signal for the retreat, the army rashly and confusedly hastened to depart, frightened by the unexpected retreat but not waiting to discuss it. The Lord Louis, stupefied by the precipitate rush and the great noise, enquired what was going on, mounted his horse and rushed after the army, but because it had already dispersed far and wide he failed to bring it back. What could that young hero do than to rush to arms with the few men he had managed to collect together, and make a wall of themselves, to shield those who had fled ahead of him, and strike and be struck time and again? Those who otherwise would have perished were able to flee quietly and securely; but because many of them fled in small groups far from him, they were captured by the enemy. Among these the most eminent were Hugh of Clermont himself and Guy of Senlis and Herluin of Paris, as well as many knights of lesser birth and foot-soldiers.
Deeply wounded by this blow - for he had thus far been unversed in misfortune - when he returned to Paris he felt a totally unaccustomed anger arise in his soul. And as is usual among young men, at least those of them who aspire to valour, as anger moved him he fanned it. Burning to avenge his injury at once, he gathered with sagacity and prudence an army three times the size of the original one, and repeatedly declared with frequent sighs that he would rather face death than bear the shame. When his friends told Count Matthew, because he was a man of good breeding and courtesy, he regretted the shame he had accidentally inflicted on his lord, and by repeated approaches sough to open the road to peace as quickly as possible.
With much politeness and flattery he tried to propitiate the young man, excusing himself, reasonably enough, on the ground that he has not inflicted this injury by design but by accident and representing himself as willing to make all due satisfaction. Through many appeals, through the counsel of his household, and the rather belated insistence of his father, the young man's anger was cooled; he pardoned the repentant noble, condoned the injury, restored his losses as far as possible with the count's cooperation, set free the captives, made peace with Hugh of Clermont, and thanks to the firm peace thus made was able to restore to him the part of the castle that was his.
Concerning Ebles, Count of Roucy
The noble church of Rheims and the churches dependent on it found themselves a prey to the tyrannical, valiant and turbulent baron Ebles of Roucy and his son Guischard, who robbed it of its goods. Ebles was a man of great military prowess - indeed he became so bold that one day he set out for Spain with an army of a size fit only for a king - his feats or arms only made him more outrageous and rapacious in pillage, rape and all over evils.
Many piteous complaints had been laid against this powerful and wicked man - before King Philip at least a hundred and before his son two or three. So Louis, exercised by the charges, assembled a relatively small army of about seven hundred knights from the most noble and valiant of French lords, and hastened to Rheims, where he fought vigorously for about two months, punishing the evils inflicted in the past on the churches, and ravaging, burning and pillaging the lands of the tyrant and his associates. It was well done; for the pillagers were pillaged, and the torturers exposed to equal or worse tortures than they had inflicted on others.
Such was the ardour of the prince and his army that throughout the whole time they were there they scarcely rested, except on Saturdays and Sundays; they ceaselessly fought with lances or swords, to avenge by harrying the injuries the count had done. He fought not only against Ebles but also against all the barons of that area who, because of their family relationships with the great men of Lotharingia, made up a formidable army.
Meanwhile there were many peace negotiations; and since the prince's presence was demanded elsewhere by other preoccupations and dangerous affairs, he held a council with his men and then both besought and demanded peace for the churches from that tyrant. Then taking hostages, he forced Ebles to confirm the peace with oaths. When he had met him and sent him away humbled, he left the negotiations over Neufchatel to another time.
The castle of Meung
No less renowned was the armed assistance he afforded to the church of Orleans when Leon, a nobleman from the castle of Meung, liegeman of the liegeman of the bishop of Orleans, tried to seize from the church the greater part of that castle and the lordship of another. Louis restrained him by force, besieged him and his large band of followers in that castle, and when the castle fell, forced Leon to take refuge in a church close by his home, which he surrounded with ramparts. To subdue the strong by the stronger, Louis beat down on him with an intolerable pressure of arms and fire. Leon was not the only man to pay heavily for the excommunication under which he had laboured so long; for when he and about sixty others jumped down from the tower of the burning church, they were pierced by the spikes of lances and by arrows shot at them; so breathing their last breaths they took their wretched souls miserably down to hell.
The castle of Montaigu
It so happened that the well-fortified castle which is called Montaigu in the district of Laon fell by a marriage alliance into the possession of Thomas de Marle, the vilest of men, a plague both to God and to men. His insupportable madness, like that of a cruel wolf, was increased by his confidence in possessing an impregnable castle. All his neighbours feared and abhorred him. The man thought to be his father, Engerrand de Bova, a venerable and honourable man, tried harder than anyone else to eject him from the castle on account of his ferocious tyranny. Enguerrand and Ebles de Roucy agreed between them that will all the men they could gather together, they would besiege the castle with Thomas inside, surround him with a wattled stockade, and force him to capitulate through fear of slow starvation. Then they would, if possible, throw down the castle and imprison him for ever. When Thomas saw that, though the stakes were already in place, the gaps between them had yet to be closed, he quietly slipped out one night and hastening to Prince Louis, he corrupted his entourage with presents and promises, and rapidly obtained the military aid he sought.
The prince was both by age and by temperament pliable; so having collected about seven hundred men, he hastened to that part of the country. When he approached the castle of Montaigu, the men who were besieging it sent messengers to him begging him, as their designated lord, not to shame them by making them lift the siege, and not to lose the service of men like themselves for the sake of such an evil man, and declaring with truth that if Thomas remained at liberty, he would do more harm to Louis than he had done to them. But when neither flattery nor threats moved him, they retired because they were afraid to attack their future lord; but they intended, as soon as Louis departed, to start the war again and resume the siege. So they unwillingly left him to do his will. Louis therefore with great strength cut down and broke the stockade, freed Montaigu and frustrated their intentions by lavishly supplying it with arms and men. Then the barons, who had withdrawn out of love and fear, were angry that he had done nothing at all for them, and threatened with oaths that they would no longer show him difference. And when they saw him leave, they struck camp, drew up battle lines and pursued him with the intention of fighting him.
There was on obstacle to their meeting: between the two armies there lay a torrent which could only be crossed with much delay. So for two days both sets of trumpets blew, and 'spears menaced spears' (Lucan, Pharsalia I, 7), until suddenly there came to the French a certain jongleur, a chivalrous knight, from the other side, who announced that the others, as soon as they had found a means of access, would indisputably join battle and avenge with their spears and swords the injuries borne for their liberty. But he had left them so that he might fight for and with his natural lord. The rumour spread through the camp and the soldiers danced with joy. They put on resplendent helmets and breastplates; they fanned their ardour; and hastened to attempt the crossing if they could find a suitable place, reckoning that attack was more befitting than defence.
When the most noble men Engerrand de Bove, Ebles de Roucy, count Andrew of Ramerupt, Hugh le Blanc of La Ferte, Robert de Cappy and the other wise and discreet men saw this, admiring the boldness of their designated lord, after discussion they decided to defer to him, and approaching in peace, they embraced his youth and gave their hands in friendship, engaging themselves to his service. Not long afterwards - and the frustration of the impious may be ascribed to the divine will - Thomas de Marle lost both the castle and his marriage by annulment on grounds on consanguinity.
How Milo entered the castle of Montlhery
By these and other means the young prince grew in virtue; he sought to provide wisely for the royal administration and the state, as opportunity allowed, to suppress the recalcitrant, and to occupy or destroy by any means castles that menaced him.
Guy Trusseau was the son of Milo de Montlhery, a turbulent baron who often disturbed the kingdom. When Guy returned home from crusade, he was broken by the exhaustion of a long journey, by the pain of his various tribulations, and by the memory of his extraordinary deed at Antioch, when he had, through fear of Kerboga, escaped by climbing down the wall, leaving the army of God besieged inside the city. So he completely lost his health. Fearing disinheritance, by the will and persuasion of King Philip and his son Louis - who desperately wanted his castle - he married his one and only daughter to the son of King Philip by his second wife the countess of Anjou. And in order to cement his brother's love more firmly, the elder brother Lord Louis, at his father's request, confirmed to Philip the castle of Mantes at his marriage.
When he received the castle of Montlhéry on this occasion, the inhabitants rejoiced as much as if a beam had been removed from their eyes or they had broken a barrier which had held them captive. King Philip testifies as much to his son Louis when, in my hearing, he recalled how seriously he had been wearied and troubled by it. 'My son Louis,' he said, 'beware of that tower which has exhausted me into premature old age; the treachery and bad faith of its castellans deprived me altogether of peace and quiet.'
Their disloyalty made the faithful faithless, the faithless totally treacherous, it attracted traitors from near and far, and in the whole kingdom no evil occurred without their complicity or consent. On the road between Corbeil on the Seine and Chateaufort on the right. Montlhéry stood halfway, blocking the route to Paris; and between Paris and Orleans it causes such chaos and confusion that men could not travel between the one place and the other unless by sheer force, without the authorisation of those wicked men. But the marriage of which we have spoken broke the barrier and opened a pleasant route in each direction.
In addition, when Guy, count of Rochefort, a man of experience and an outstanding knight, who was Guy Trousseau's uncle, returned from his Jerusalem journey full of fame and fortune, he freely adhered to King Philip, whose old friend he was, and whose seneschal he had once been. Both the king and his son Louis invested Guy with the seneschalship for the benefit of the state, so that they might from then on possess the castle of Montlhery in quiet, and in order to obtain from his county (that is Rochefort, Chateaufort and the other nearby castles), which bordered on their lands, a peace and service to which they were unaccustomed. The mutual friendship reached the point that, by his father's persuasion, the son Louis agreed to wed Guy's daughter, no yet of marriageable age. But his affianced did not become his wife; for before the consummation of the marriage the union was broken some years later on ground of consanguinity. Thus the friendship lasted for three years; both father and son had infinite confidence in Guy, the Count Guy and his son Hugh de Crecy put all their strength into the defence and honour of the realm.
But because 'a vase retains for a long time the smell of anything that has one been poured into it' (Horace, Epistles I, 2, v, 69-70) the men of Montlhery, faithful to their treacherous tradition, intrigued with the Garlande brothers, who had incurred the enmity of the king and his son. They arranged that Milo, viscount of Troyes and younger brother of Guy Trusseau, should come with his mother the viscountess and a great band of soldiers; and he was received at the castle in defiance of their vow. In tears he reminded them of the benefits his father had often conferred on them, he praised their generosity and natural industry, admired their wonderful loyalty, thanked them for having recalled him, and at their knees humbly begged them to finish well a work so well begun. Swayed by seeing him prostrated by grief, they rushed to arms, ran to the tower, and hurled against its garrison swords, lances, torches, stakes and stones. They breached the outer wall of the tower in several places and mortally wounded many of the defenders. Within the tower were the wife of Guy and his daughter affianced to the Lord Louis, When seneschal Guy heard of it, as he was a magnanimous man, he hastened forth and with as many knights as he could gather, boldly approached the castle and sent ahead his fastest messengers to summon his followers from all around. Those who were besieging the tower saw him from the hill. As they had not yet captured it, and were afraid of the sudden advent of Lord Louis and his stranglehold, they retired and began to debate whether they should stand fast or flee. But Guy, who was valiant and diplomatic, persuaded the Garlande brothers to come out and swore that they should have the peace and grace of the king and Lord Louis. Thus he made them and their accomplices abandon their enterprise; with their defection, Milo also defected and fled away swiftly, totally thwarted, in tears and lamentations.
When the Lord Louis heard this, he hastened to the castle, and on hearing the true account, rejoiced that nothing had been lost, but grieved that he could not find the rebels to hand them. As for the rest, since Guy had sworn peace with them, the Lord Louis preserved it; but in order to prevent any similar occurrence in the future, he demolished all the fortifications except the tower.
Bohemond, prince of Antioch
Around that time, it happened that the illustrious prince of Antioch, Bohemond, came to visit France. The fortifications of Antioch had been given into his special charge after the long hard siege, because of his valour. This famous man, outstanding among the Orientals, performed one exploit of such generosity that it could never have been achieved without divine assistance, and which was talked about even among the Saracens:
With his father Robert Guiscard he had crossed the sea to besiege Durazzo, and the riches of Thessalonica, the treasures of Constantinople and even the whole of Greece proved inadequate to make them withdraw. Suddenly there arrived legates from Pope Alexander, who had crossed the sea after them to summon them, for the love of God and the loyalty owed by vassals, to assist and rescue the Roman church and the pope who were being besieged by the emperor in the tower of Crescentius. They begged them desperately and declared on oath that if they did not come at once, the city, the church and even the pope himself would be shipwrecked.
The princess hesitated before choosing whether to put an end for good to such a great and costly expedition, or to bear the responsibility for the enslavement or total wreckage of the pope, the city and the church. When they had anxiously deliberated about it, they made an excellent decision, the help the pope without renouncing the expedition. Leaving Bohemund at the siege, his father set sail for Apulia, collected men and arms from wherever he could, from Sicily, Apulia, Calabria and Campania, and hastened swiftly and boldly to Rome. And so it happened by the will of God and as a marvellous portent, that while he was at Rome the emperor of Constantinople, hearing of his absence, brought up an army of Greeks to attack Bohemund in Durazzo by land and by sea; so, on exactly the same day as his father Guiscard came to grips with the emperor at Rome, he fought valiantly against the Greek emperor, and each prince, marvellous to relate, triumphed over his emperor.
Bohemund came to France to seek by any means he could the hand of the Lord Louis' sister Constance, a young lady of excellent breeding, elegant appearance and beautiful face. So great was the reputation for valour of the French kingdom and of the Lord Louis that even the Saracens were terrified by the prospect of that marriage. She was not engaged since she had broken off her agreement to wed Hugh, count of Troyes, and wished to avoid another unsuitable match. The prince of Antioch was experienced and rich both in gifts and promises; he fully deserved the marriage, which was celebrated with great pomp by the bishop of Chartres in the presence of the king, the Lord Louis, and many archbishops, bishops and noblemen of the realm.
Among those present was the papal legate, Lord Bruno, bishop of Segni, who had accompanied Bohemond at the instigation of Pope Paschal to call for and encourage and expedition to the Holy Land. So at Poitiers he held a full and solemn council, at which I was present because I had just finished my studies, where he dealt with various synodal matter and especially with the Jerusalem journey, lest zeal for the project should cool; and both he and Bohemond inspired many people to go there. Strengthened by this sizeable company of knights Bohemund, the lady Constance and the legate all returned happily and gloriously to their homes. Lady Constance bore Lord Bohemund two sons, John and Bohemund. John did in Apulia before he was old enough to be knighted. But Bohemund, a graceful young man, made for chivalry, became prince of Antioch. One day when he was attacking the Saracens, heedless of their zeal and impetuosity, he rashly followed them, fell into a trap they set, and was beheaded along with a hundred knights for having displayed too much courage. Thus he lost Antioch, Apulia and his life.
Pope Paschal II's visit
The year after Bohemund's return home, the universal and supreme pope Paschal of venerable memory came to the west with many very wise men, bishops, cardinals and nobles of the Roman province, to consult the King of France and the Lord Louis and the church of France over certain difficulties and new problems relating to investiture, with which the emperor Henry troubled him and threatened to trouble him even more. This man, lacking in parental affection or any humanity, most cruelly used his father Henry, disinherited him, held him, so they say, in criminal captivity, and most impiously forced him, by allowing his enemies to inflict blows and injuries on him, into handing over to him the royal regalia, the crown, the sceptre and the lance of St. Maurice, and allowed him to keep nothing in the whole kingdom.
It was decided at Rome that, because of the venal treachery of the Romans, it would be safer to discuss this matter and all other questions, not in Rome but in France with the king, the king's son and the French church. So Paschal came to Cluny, and from Cluny to La Charité, where, before a great crowd of archbishops, bishops and monks, he dedicated and consecrated that famous monastery. There were also present great magnates of the realm, including the noble count of Rochefort, steward of the King, sent to meet the lord pope as his spiritual father, to do his will throughout the realm. I was present at this consecration and before the Lord pope I inveighed against Galon, bishop of Paris, who was pursuing various quarrels against St. Denis. I there obtained satisfaction in accordance both with reason and with canon law.
After celebrating Laetare Jerusalem at St. Martin's in Tours, his mitre on his head in the Roman fashion, he came to the venerable home of St. Denis, with benevolence and devotion such as would have been appropriate to the true seat of St. Peter. He was gloriously received in the manner suitable to a bishop. There he administered to the Romans, for whom it was an unknown thing, and also to posterity, a truly memorable example: quite contrary to what had been feared, he did not strive to obtain the monastery' gold or silver or precious stones; indeed he did not deign to look at them. Most humbly prostrating himself before the relics of the saints. He humbly begged that he might be given for his protection a scrap of St. Denis' episcopal vestments soaked in blood. 'Do not be displeased', he requested, 'to return a small part of his vestments to us, for we sent that great man to you without a murmur, for the conversion of Gaul.'
There King Philip and the Lord Louis met him with compliments and vows, the royal majesty kneeling at his feet for love of God, just as kings are accustomed to bow their crowned heads at the sepulchre of Peter the fisherman. The lord pope stretched out his hand to raise them up and made them sit facing him as the most devoted sons of the apostles. As a wise man in his wisdom, he consulted them familiarly on the state of the church and, flattering them delicately, he prayed them to render assistance to St. Peter and himself, his vicar, to maintain the church, and in accordance with the custom established by their predecessor Charlemagne and other kings of the Franks, to resist boldly tyrants and the enemies of the church, above all the Emperor Henry. They gave him their hands as witness of their friendship, aid and counsel, put their realm at his disposal, and sent with him to Chalons to meet the imperial legates some archbishops and bishops and Adam, abbot of St. Denis, whom I accompanied.
The lord pope waited there for some time before the legates of the Emperor Henry turned up as had been arranged. They were not humble, but proud and unrepentant. They received hospitality at St. Menge, where they left the chancellor Albert, with whom the emperor agreed heart and soul. The rest came to the papal court in a great procession with much pomp and display of ornament. They were the archbishop of Trèves, the bishop of Halberstadt, the bishop of Munster, several counts and Duke Welf, a corpulent man of amazing width and height and a loud voice, who had a sword carried before him everywhere. They made such a brouhaha that they seemed to have been sent to terrify us, not to reason with us.
Only the Archbishop of Trèves spoke for them. He was a well-bred and agreeable man, rich in eloquence and wisdom, fluent in French; he made an apt speech, offering the lord pope and his court the greetings and cooperation of the emperor, saving the rights of his kingdom. Then in accordance with his instructions, he said: 'This is the reason why I was sent by my lord the emperor. In the days of our ancestors and of the holy and apostolic to imperial law, all elections should proceed thus: before a public election took place, the name of the favoured candidate should be mentioned to the emperor, and if the person was suitable, he would give his assent before the election; then and assembly was held according to canon law, and by the request of the people, at the choice of the clergy and with the assent of the suzerain, the candidate was proclaimed. After being consecrated freely and without simony, he would go to the emperor for the regalia, to be invested with the ring and staff, and to take the oath of fidelity and homage. There is nothing odd about this. It is exactly the way in which cities or castles or marcher territories or tolls or any other gifts of the imperial dignity are conferred. If the lord pope will accept this, the kingdom and the church will remain together in prosperity and peace to the honour of God.'
To this the lord pope replied, after reflection, through the mouth of the bishop of Plaisance: 'The church which has been redeemed and set free through the precious blood of Christ ought in no way again to be imprisoned. If the church cannot choose a bishop without consulting the emperor, then it is servilely subjected to him, and Christ died in vain. Investiture with the staff and ring, since these things belong to the altar, is a usurpation of God's rights. If hands consecrated to the body and blood of Christ are to be placed between laymen's hands, bloodied by the use of the sword, in order to create an obligation, then it derogates from ordination and from sacred unction.'
When the stiff-necked legates heard this and similar things, with German impetuosity they ground their teeth, they grew agitated, and if they could have dared to do so safely, they would have vomited their insults and wounded others. They cried, 'This quarrel will not be ended here but in Rome, and by the sword.' But the pope sent several specially chosen and experienced men to the chancellor, to discuss these things with him in an orderly and peaceful way, where they could hear and be heard, and to beg them resolutely to work for the peace of the kingdom. After their departure the pope went to Troyes, where he presided with ceremony over a universal council convoked long before; then, with great warmth for the French who had helped him so much, but with fear and hatred for the Germans, he returned successfully to the see of St. Peter.
But the emperor, in the second year after his return home, collected together an enormous army of thirty thousand men. 'Rejoicing to take only those roads bathed in blood' (Lucan, Pharsalia, II, 439-400), he set out for Rome. There he very convincingly pretended to peaceful aims, put aside the investiture dispute, made all sorts of fine promises about this and other things and, in order to be allowed to enter the city, which would otherwise have been barred to him, he used flattery and feared not to deceive the supreme pontiff, the whole church, even the King of Kings. When they heard that this pernicious problem, so serious and so dangerous for the church of God, had been solved, the Roman nobles rightly or wrongly danced with joy and the clergy rejoiced mightily; and in their enthusiasm each contended as to which should receive him more honourably or magnificently. Then the lord pope, surrounded by a crowd of bishops and cardinals clad in white mantles and on white horses, hastened to meet him, followed by the Roman people. They had sent before them messengers to receive from the emperor the oath of peace sworn on the Bible, and his renunciation of investitures. This was done at Monte Mario, where travellers see for the first time the church of the apostles. Then the oath was repeated by the hand of the emperor and his magnates at the very gate of Rome, a marvellous sight for all the Romans.
From thence he set forth with greater pomp than if some triumphal arch was smiling on an African victory; with hymns and much triumphant praise he received the diadem from the hand of the lord pope according to the Augustan custom. Then he was taken to the most sacred altar of the apostles, preceded by a procession of clerics chanting hymns, and a terrible clamour of Germans whose shrieks pierced the heavens. Then the lord pope celebrated thanksgiving mass, offered the body and blood of Jesus Christ, then broke the Eucharist, and the emperor received it and made his communion; he dedicated the marvellous sacrifice to the church, in testimony of an alliance founded on indivisible love and on the preservation of the peace.
The lord pope had scarcely taken off his episcopal regalia after the mass, when with unexpected wickedness of Teutonic fury, inventing grounds for a breach, broke forth in passion. Drawing their swords and rushing out as if filled with frenzy, they met the Romans, naturally unarmed in such a place; they shouted and swore that they would capture or slay the whole Roman clergy including bishops and cardinals and, the final height of insanity, they did not fear to lay hands on the lord pope himself. The Roman nobles and people, struck with incredulous grief and heartfelt sadness, belatedly understood the treachery. Some rushed to arms, others fled as if stupefied; they could not escape the unexpected hostile attack except by pulling down the beams of the gateway, so making their ruin into their defence. The emperor, at the mercy of his bad conscience and tormented by his evil deed, left city as hastily as possible, taking with him as booty - Christians have never heard of such a deed by a Christian - the lord pope and as many cardinals and bishops as he could. He retired to Civitate Castellana, a place well defended both by nature and by man. He treated the cardinals disgracefully, dishonestly despoiling them; and - wicked to relate - he proudly seized from the lord pope himself his cope and his mitre and other papal insignia, not fearing to lay hands on the Lord's anointed, and injuring his much. Then he heaped insults upon them and would not suffer them to depart until he had forced them to annul the pact and to return him his privilege. He even extorted another surreptitious privilege from the hand of the pope, that he should thenceforth invest; a privilege which, in my own hearing and in a great council of three hundred or more bishops, the lord pope quashed and annulled under pain of perpetual anathema.
But if anyone asks why the pope behaved so weakly, he should realise that without the pope and his cardinals the church languished, and the tyrant almost subdued it to slavery and treated it as if it were his own property, for there was no-one to resist. The pope gave certain proof of this; for when he had brought about the release of his brothers, the pillars of the church, had done whatever he could for the defence and repair of the church, and had restored some kind of peace to the church, he fled to a solitary refuge where he would have taken up perpetual abode, had not the pressure of the universal church and of the Romans forced him to return.
But the Lord Jesus Christ, the redeemer and defender of the church, would not suffer her to be long trampled under foot, or the emperor to go unpunished. Those who were not bound or obliged by homage took up the cause of the storm-tossed church. With the help and advice of Louis, the lord designate, the French church in a famous council anathematised the tyrannical emperor and struck him with the sword of St. Peter. Then, entering the kingdom of Germany, they raised up the nobles and the larger part of the kingdom against him, deposed his followers like Bouchard the Red, bishop of Münster, and did not cease to persecute him and seize his possessions until his deserved death and the end of his tyranny. By divine vengeance, his evil deeds justly brought about the transfer of the empire; for after his death Lothar, duke of Saxony, succeeded, a warlike man, unconquered defender of the state. Accompanied by the lord pope Innocent, Lothar reduced recalcitrant Italy, ravaging Campania and Apulia as far as the Adriatic, before the eyes of count Roger of Sicily, because he had proclaimed himself king; then he returned home in the greatest triumph, to fall victim to death in his moment of victory.
But let other writers describe these and similar things. I shall recall the deeds of the French, for that is my object.
Concerning the capture of castle of Gournay
Count Guy of Rochefort, whose daughter's marriage with the Lord Louis had been blocked by the machinations of his rivals on grounds of consanguinity, then ended by divorce in the presence of the pope, felt deeply resentful, 'and fanned this small spark into moving fires.' (Lucan, Pharsalia V, 525). The Lord Louis' fondness for him was in no way diminished until suddenly the Garlandes interfered to destroy the friendship, dissolve the alliance and enflame the bitterness. Then an occasion for fighting arose: Hugh of Pomponne, a valiant knight, castellan of Gournay, a castle on the banks of the Marne, opportunistically seized the horses of some merchants on the royal highway and took them to Gournay. Beside himself with fury at this outrageous presumption, the Lord Louis collected an army, began an unexpected siege of the castle and very quickly surrounded it to deprive the inmates of a large stock of food.
Around the castle there is an attractive island, rich in meadows, excellent for horses and flocks, wide enough but longer than it is wide, and very useful to the garrison, because it offers to those walking there a beautiful spectacle of clear and moving water, a sight made more charming by green grass and flowers; besides, the surrounding river provides security. So the Lord Louis prepared a fleet to attack the island. He ordered some of the knights and many of the foot-soldiers to take off their clothes so that they could enter the river faster and, if things went badly, get out faster. Then some swimming, other riding rather dangerously across the deep waters, he entered the water and commanded them to occupy the island. But the garrison resisted strongly, threw down stones from the higher bank of the river on to those in the boats and the river, and drove them back with lances and spears. But the attackers recovered their courage and determined to repel those who had repelled them, so they forced the slingers and the archers to stop, fighting hand to hand when it was possible, while the armoured and helmeted men in the fleet went into action with extreme bravery like pirates, threw back the resistance, and as courage will which refuses to submit to dishonour, they occupied the island by force, and drove its defenders within the castle.
A tight siege was enforced for some time without bringing about a surrender. Impatient of delay, the Lord Louis, consumed one day by energy, summoned the army, and approached that castle which was brilliantly defended by an deep and steep ditch topped by a wall, and below by a rushing stream whose depth made it virtually impregnable. The Lord Louis crossed the stream, scaled the earthwork with its barrier, came up to the wall, gave the order for battle while fighting himself, an led an attack on the enemy as violent as it was bitter. On the other side, the defenders, preferring courage to life, pressed swiftly to their cause without sparing their lord; they took up arms, attacked their enemies, regained the upper part of the stronghold and even the lower by throwing their opponents into the stream. So they brought glory on themselves while Louis' army, despite its efforts, sustained a defeat.
Then siege engines were prepared to destroy the castle; a very tall machine of three stories was erected towering over the soldiers, which dominated the castle and prevented the slingers and archers of the first line from moving about the fort or showing themselves. Under incessant pressure day and night from the machines and unable to man their defences, they sensibly made dugouts for themselves, and sniping with their archers, they put those dominating them from above in peril of death. Attached to the tall machine there was a wooden bridge which could be drawn out quite high and lowered gradually on to the wall to offer an easy entrance to the attackers. But the defenders, conversant with this manoeuvre, erected at intervals vertical wooden piles, so that when both the bridge and those who crossed it fell together into deep pits full of pointed stakes covered with straw to escape detection, the assailants should face danger and death.
Meanwhile Count Guy, adroit and valiant man as he was, roused his relations and friends, begged that aid of lords and rushed to the assistance of the besieged. He therefore negotiated with Thibauld, Count Palatine, a most distinguished young man skilled in all the arts of chivalry, that on a fixed day he should bring aid to the besieged, now lacking in food, and raise the siege by force of arms. Meanwhile Guy did what he could by rapine and fire to induce the besiegers to depart.
On the day appointed for Count Thibauld to bring up his reinforcements and end the siege by force, the Lord Louis collected what men he could from close at hand and, mindful of the royal dignity, full of valour, he left his tents defended and set forth joyfully. He sent ahead a scout to tell him where the enemy was and whether it intended to engage in battle. Then he commanded his barons himself, he drew up the lines of knights and foot-soldiers and gave dispositions to the archers and spearmen. So that they should be seen, the trumpets sounded, the pugnacity of the knights and horses was roused, the engagement began. The French, drawing on long experience of war, fell on the men of Brie made soft by long peace, cut them to pieces with their lances and swords, determined on victory, and both knights and foot-soldiers went on attacking them ferociously until they turned tail and fled. As for the count, preferring to escape capture by being first rather than last in flight, he left his army behind him and rushed home.
In this engagement some were killed, many wounded and many more captured, and the news of this famous victory spread throughout the land. Having won such a great and timely victory, the Lord Louis returned to his tents, ejected those within the castle who had been boyed up by false hopes, and keeping the castle for himself, he handed it over to the Garlandes to guard.
Concerning the capture of the castle of Sainte-Severe.
While idleness and lack of occupation depress men, making the noble ignoble, the glorious inglorious, valour enhanced by bodily exercise inspires them, making the noble nobler, the glorious more glorious. It repays the men who have it by providing them with heroic needs in all parts of the earth, which their valour can feed on with pleasure.
Men came to the Lord Louis to beg him with the utmost supplication and with offers of great and rewarding service, to betake himself to Berry, to the borders of the Limousin, to the castle of Sainte-Severe, a most noble place, famous for its tradition of chivalry and rich in footsoldiers. They urged that its lord Humbaud, a most noble man, should either be forced to render justice or, justly punished for the injuries he had inflicted, to have the castle confiscated according to Salic law.
At their request Louis went there, accompanied not by an army but by a troop of his household knights. He was approaching the castle when he was met by the castellan with a large body of knights - for Humbaud was naturally generous, very liberal and far-sighted. Establishing himself behind a stream defended by bars and stakes - for there was no other route - Humbaud resisted the French troops. As the two parties faced each other across the stream, the Lord Louis was irritated to see one of the enemy, bolder than the others, leave the defences; so he urged on his horse, and with courage greater than that of other men, rode at him, struck him with his lance, and with one blow flattened not only him but also another man behind him; then, rather unsuitably for a king, he made them take a bath in the river up to their helms. Without delay he capitalised on his success, pushed in by the narrow space through which his adversary had come forth, and did not hesitate to make the enemy recoil b brave engagement. The French, marvellously encouraged by the sight, broke the barrier, crossed the stream and, pursuing the enemy, killed many of them, and forced the rest back to the castle.
The news spread, frightening the garrison and the whole neighbourhood, that the Lord Louis and his men, as befitted very powerful knights, would scorn to retire before they had totally destroyed the castle and either hanged or blinded the more important men within. Therefore it was wisely decided that the lord of the castle should submit at once to the royal majesty, and give up his castle and land to Louis' jurisdiction. So on his return the Lord Louis took the castellan as booty, left him at Étampes, and after his swift triumph went back to Paris happy in his success.
Of the death of King Philip.
While the son grew daily in strength, his father King Philip daily grew feebler. For after he had abducted the Countess of Anjou, he could achieve nothing worthy of the royal dignity; consumed by desire for the lady he had seized, he gave himself up entirely to the satisfaction of his passion. So he lost interest in the affairs of state and, relaxing too much, took no care for his body, well-made and handsome though it was. The only thing that maintained the strength of the state was the fear and love felt for his son and successor. When he was almost sixty, he ceased to be king, breathing his last breath at the castle of Melun-sur-Seine, in the presence of the Lord Louis.
There were present at his funeral several venerable men: Galon, bishop of Paris, the bishops of Senlis and Orleans, Adam of blessed memory, abbot of St. Denis, and many other religious. They bore his royal body to the church of Notre Dame, and spent the whole night in obsequies. The next morning, his son ordered the bier to be covered with a woven pall and suitable funeral ornaments and to be borne on the shoulders of his principal servant; then with proper filial affection, in tears he accompanied the bier, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback, with those barons whom he had with him. He showed great magnanimity in that, throughout his father's life he took great care not to offend him, either on account of his own mother's repudiation or of his marriage with the Countess of Anjou; unlike other young men in similar circumstances, he chose not to upset his father's control of the kingdom by cheating in any way.
They carried the body in a great procession to the noble monastery of St-Benoit-sur-Loire, where King Philip wished to be buried; there are those who say the heard from his own mouth that he deliberately chose not to be buried among his royal ancestors in the church of St. Denis (which was almost by natural law the royal mausoleum), because he had not treated that church as well as they had, and because among so many noble kings his own tomb would not have counted for much. So he was laid to rest as fittingly as they could before the altar in that monastery, and commending his soul to God with hymns and prayers, they covered the tomb with magnificent stones.
Of his solemn elevation to the throne.
Prince Louis, who had in youth earned the friendship of the church by his liberal defence of its rights, had aided the poor and the orphaned, and had disciplined tyrants by his might, with God's assistance was elevated to the kingdom by the vows of good men, though had it been possible, he would have been excluded by the machinations of evil and impious men.
After reflection it was decided, principally on the advice of the venerable and very wise bishop of Chartres, Yvo, that there should be an immediate assembly at Orleans to foil the plot of those impious men, and to accelerate his elevation to the throne. So Daimbert, archbishop of Sens, who had been invited, came with his provincials, Galon bishop of Paris, Manasses of Meaux, John of Orleans, Yvo of Chartres, Hugh of Nevers and Humbaud of Auxerre. On the feast of the invention of the holy protomartyr Stephen, the archbishop anointed Louis with the most holy oil of unction. After a mass of thanksgiving, the archbishop took off his sword of secular chivalry and replaced it with the church's sword for the punishment of evil-doers, crowned him most willingly with the royal diadem, and with great devotion bestowed on him the sceptre and rod as a sign that he must defend the church and the poor, and various other royal insignia, to the delight of the clergy and people.
Louis had just taken off his festive ornaments after the ceremonies, when suddenly there arrived bearers of evil news from the church at Rheims, carrying letters of protest and by papal authority forbidding, had they but arrived in time, the royal unction to take place. For they declared that the first fruits of the royal coronations belonged totally by right to the church of Rheims, and that St. Remigius had obtained this prerogative, entire and uncontested, from the first king of the Franks, Clovis, when he baptised him. Anyone who dared rashly to violate this would be struck by perpetual anathema. Their archbishop, the venerable and elderly man Raoul the Green, had incurred the king's acute and dangerous displeasure because he had been elected and enthroned without the royal assent. Therefore they hoped either to make his peace with the king or to put off the coronation. Since they arrived too late, they held their peace at Orleans, though they said much whey they returned home; but what they said achieved nothing.
Of the Capture of La Ferte-Baudoin and the freeing of the Count of Corbeil and Anselm of Garlande.
Louis, now king of France by the grace of God, could not forget the lessons he had learned in youth of defending churches, protecting the poor and needy and working for the peace and defence of the realm.
Guy the Red, mentioned above, and his son Hugh de Crécy, an intelligent young man of valour but made for rape and arson who was prompt to disturb the whole kingdom, both persisted in detracting from the king's dignity on account of the bitterness they felt at the shameful loss of the castle of Gournay. Therefore Hugh chose not even to spare his brother Odo, Count of Corbeil, because he would give him no help against the king; so he ambushed him, exploiting his simplicity. One day Count Odo decided to hunt peacefully on his own property, when the foolish man discovered what kind of realities and hopes a blood relationship can give rise to, once corrupted by envy. For he was captured by his brother Hugh, shackled and chained in the castle of La Ferté-Baudoin, and not allowed to escape, even if he had been able to, unless he would make war on the king.
In the face on this singular madness, large numbers of the inhabitants of Corbeil (for that castellany was rich in knights of ancient families) fled to the refuge offered to all by the crown. Kneeling at the king's feet, with tears and sobs they told him of the count's capture and its cause, and begged and prayed Louis to set him free by force. When Louis's promise of help gave them hope of his release, their anger cooled, their sorrow was alleviated, and they turned to the question of the means and forces they had to recover their lord. La Ferté-Baudoin belonged to Hugh, not through hereditary right but because of his marriage with the Countess Adelaide, whom he had then repudiated while keeping the castle. Some men of La Ferté therefore entered into negotiations with those of Corbeil and swore to let them into the castle, though they took precautions.
Persuaded by the men of Corbeil, the king hastened there with a handful of household troops, to avoid publicity. It was late, and the men in the castle were still chatting around their fires, when those who had been sent on ahead, the seneschal Anselm of Garlande, a very brave knight, and about forty armed men, were received at the gate which had been agreed, and made vigorous efforts to capture it. But the garrison, surprised by the neighing of the horses and the inopportune noise of the knights, rushed to oppose them. Because the entrance was restricted by the enemy's gates, those who had entered could neither go forward nor back at will, so the inhabitants, emboldened by their position, could cut down those in front of the gates very easily. The attackers, oppressed by darkening shadows and by their unfortunate position, could not long sustain the blows and returned to the outer gate. But the very courageous Anselm, sacrificing himself in retreat, could not beat the enemy to the gate; he was captured and occupied the tower of the castle, not as its conqueror but as a captive along with the Count of Corbeil. Their misery was equal, though their fears were different; for one feared death, the other only disinheritance; so it might aptly have been said of them: 'Carthage and Marius consoled each other on their destinies.' (Lucan, Pharsalia, II, 91-92)
When the shouts of the fugitives reached the ears of the hastening king, angry that he had been delayed and diverted by the difficulties of the dark night, he sprang on to a very fast horse and rushed to help his men by boldly attacking the gate. But he found the gate locked, and repulsed by a hail of arrows, spears and stones, he withdrew. The grief-stricken brothers and relatives of the captured seneschal fell at his feet, crying: 'Have pity glorious and courageous king, for if that wicked and abandoned man Hugh de Crécy, sated with human blood, can lay his hands on our brother either by coming here or by having him taken to him, he will throw himself at his throat without the least thought for the penalty that would await him if he consigned him to sudden death. For he is more ferocious than the most ferocious of men.'
Moved by their fear, the king at once surrounded the castle, obstructed the roads which led to the gates, built four or five barriers around it and deployed both the kingdom's and his own resources for the capture of the captives and the castle. Hugh, who had at first been delighted by the seize of Anselm, was now terrified of the prospect of losing him and the castle. Anxiously he plotted to enter the castle by any means; both on horseback and on foot he disguised himself, now as a jongleur, now as a prostitute.
One day as he was giving his whole attention to this, he was spotted from the castle and jumped upon. Unable to fight off the murderous attack, he sought safety in flight. Suddenly William, brother of the captured seneschal, a knight of outstanding valour, among others in pursuit but ahead of them by the speed of his horse and his own determination, rushed at him and tried to cut off his retreat. Hugh recognised him by his great speed and brandished his lance often in his direction; but not daring to delay on account of his pursuers, he set off in flight. He was of matchless skill; had it been possible for him to have fought in single combat, he would have displayed his great daring either in winning the trophy for the duel or in facing death. Unable to avoid all the villages in his path or the inevitable attacks of the approaching enemies except by a trick, he passed himself off as William of Garlande; he cried out that he was being pursued by Hugh and invited others, in the name of the king, to bar his pursuer's path. By these and other tricks, thanks to quickness of tongue and courage of heart, he was successful in flight, and so one man laughed at many.
Neither this nor any other cause drew the king away from the siege he had begun. He tightened the blockade, harassed the garrison, and went on attacking until he compelled them to surrender to his power, after a secret assault was led by his knights and assisted by the treachery of some of the garrison. In the tumult, the knights fleeing into the keep were concerned only to save their lives, not to evade capture; for once shut up there they could neither protect themselves adequately nor get out by any means. In the end, after some had been slain and others wounded, they gave themselves and the castle up to the king's will, with the approval of their lord. And so 'Both dutiful and wicked in one and the same action' (Ovid, Metamorphoses III, 5) he restored his seneschal to himself, a brother to his brothers and their count to the people of Corbeil, displaying both prudence and clemency. Of the knights who were in the castle, some he disinherited, seizing their goods, some he condemned to lengthy imprisonment, by this harsh punishment intending to deter others; and so by this great victory won through God's aid against the expectations of his rivals, he increased the revenues of the crown.
Of the interview between King Louis and Henry, king of the English, of Neaufles.
At that time Henry, king of the English, happened to arrive in Normandy. He was a very courageous man, excellent in peace and war, whose great reputation had spread almost throughout the world. That marvellous if rustic prophet, the visionary and reporter of England's eternal destinies, Merlin, loudly vaunted Henry's excellence with elegance and truth; and in the course of his praise he suddenly burst forth, as prophets do: 'There shall come forth a lion of justice, at whose roar French towers and island dragons shall tremble. In his days gold will be extracted from the lilly and the nettle, and silver shall trickle from the hooves of those who bellow. The hailed ones shall be clothed with various cloaks, and the outer habit shall signify the inner dispositions. The feet of barkers shall be shortened, the wild animals shall have peace, humanity will suffer in torment. The means of exchange will be split; half will be round. The rapacity of the kite shall perish and the teeth of wolves grow blunt. Lion cubs shall be transformed into fish of the sea and the eagle will build her nest on Snowdon.' (Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Regum Britanniae, vii, 3).
All the sayings of this great and ancient prophet apply so exactly to the king's courage both of his person and of his administration of the realm, that not one iota or word seems out of place. What is said at the end about the lioncubs clearly relates to his son and daughter, who were shipwrecked and devoured by the fish of the sea; their physical transformation proves the truth of the prophecy.
So King Henry, succeeding by good fortune his brother William, organised the kingdom of England, on the advice of skilled and trustworthy men, in accordance with the law of ancient kings, and in order to attract popularity he confirmed by oath the ancient customs of the realm. Then he sailed into harbour in the duchy of Normandy and, relying on the help of the French king, he settled the land, revised the laws, imposed peace by force, and threatened to tear out the eyes of thieves or to hang them. These and like threats, rapidly put into effect, made a deep impression, for 'anyone can be rich in promises' (Ovid, De Arte Amandi, I, 444), 'the land fell silent in his presence', (Maccabees I, ch. i, 3). The Normans, fierce descendants of the Danes and devoid of desire for peace, reluctantly kept the peace, so proving the correctness of the rustic prophet's words: 'The rapacity of the kite shall perish and the teeth of wolves grow blunt.' Neither nobles nor common people dared presumptuously to pillage or steal. As for what Merlin said, 'at the roar of the lion of justice the French towers and the island dragons shall tremble,' this was fulfilled because Henry ordered almost all the towers and fortified places of Normandy, which is a part of France, to be pulled down, or he put his own men into them and paid for them himself or, if they were already ruined, he subjected them to his will. 'The island dragons trembled' since none of the English barons even dared to murmur during the whole of his reign.
'In his days gold shall be extracted from the lily', that is, from the religious in good odour; 'and from the nettle', from stinging secular people; he extracted it so that all should serve him because he profited them all. For it is safer that one man should take something from all men when he defends all of them, than that all should perish because one man has nothing. 'Silver shall trickle from the hooves of those who bellow' because security in the countryside means full granaries, and full granaries mean plenty of silver in full coffers.
On this occasion he extorted the castle of Gisors from Pagan of Gisors as much by flattery as by threats. This very well-fortified castle is advantageously situated on the frontier between France and Normandy, on a river rich in fish called the Epte. By an old agreement and a geometrical measurement made with measuring cords, it marked out the lands of the French from those of the Danes. The castle offered the Normans an easy point of access for their raids on France, but kept the French out. Had he had the chance of acquiring it, the king of France, no less than the king of England, should have tried to obtain it through the law of the land, because of its site and the protection it afforded. So Henry's annexation of this castle fomented a sudden hatred between the two kings. The king of France asked Henry either to give up the castle or to destroy it but his request failed. And so, accusing him of having broken the treaty, he fixed a day and place for negotiations on the matter.
Meanwhile, as usually happens in such affairs, the hatreds of the kings were fanned by the malicious words of their rivals, rather than damped down while it was still possible. In order to present themselves at the talks looking proud and menacing, they increased their military strengths. Louis collected together the greater number of the French barons, Count Robert of Flanders with about four thousand men, the Palatine Count Thibaud, the count of Nevers, the duke of Burgundy and a great many others, along with many archbishops and bishops. Then he marched through the land of the count of Melun, ravaging and burning it, because the count supported the king of England. By such benefits he paved the way favourably for the future talks.
When each side had collected a huge army, it came to the place commonly called Les-Planches-de-Neaufles, by the ill-omened castle where the ancient tradition of the inhabitants holds that negotiations there never or hardly ever succeed. Then the armies settled down on either bank of a river which prevented passage. But after reflection, a chosen group of the noblest and wisest French crossed it by a rickety bridge so aged that it seemed likely suddenly to precipitate them into the river, and approached the English king.
Then the skilled orator among them who had been charged with the negotiations, without greeting the king, spoke in the name of his companions: 'When through the generous liberality of the king of France you received the duchy of Normandy as your own fief, held by his munificent right hand, among and before other conditions, you promised on oath in relation to Gisors and Bray that, by whatever means one or other of you obtained these places, neither should keep them; rather within forty days of their acquisition the possessor should, in compliance with the treaty, totally destroy these castles to their foundations. Because you have not done this, the king orders that you should do so forthwith; or, if you refuse, make due legal amends. For it is shameful for a king to break the law, since both king and law enjoy the same majestic power of command. If you men have either forgotten the promise or pretended to forget because they did not want to declare it, we are ready to prove its truth by the clear testimony of two or three barons, according to the law of duel.'
After this speech they returned to the French king; but they did not arrive in his presence before some Normans who had followed them entered, shamelessly denying anything which could compromise their stand and asking that the case should be heard in due judicial order; their one aim was to hold up the negotiations by some kind of delay, so as to prevent the truth from being revealed to so many great men of the realm. So even nobler men were sent back with the first envoys, who boldly offered to reveal the truth through that peerless champion Robert of Jerusalem, count of Flanders, to refute all verbal exaggeration by the law of duel, and demonstrate by force of arms on which side justice lay.
The Normans neither accepted nor refused the proposition plainly. Then the magnanimous king Louis, as great of heart as of body, swiftly sent messengers to Henry requiring him to choose between destroying the castle and fighting in person against the king of France on account of his breach of faith. 'Come', he said, 'let the pain of this encounter be his to whom also the glory of truth and victory belongs.' As to the place for the duel, he decided most suitably; 'Their host should retire from the bank of the river to allow us to cross, so that the safer place may give each greater security; or, if he would prefer, let each take the noblest men of the other army as hostages to guarantee the single combat, provided that I am permitted to cross after my army has retired. Otherwise it is not possible to go across the river.' But some people cried out in a ridiculous jest that the king ought to fight on the shaky bridge which would instantly break; and King Louis, as light;-hearted as he was bold, wanted this.
But the English king said, 'The matter is too unimportant for me to lose a famous and most useful castle on details like this.' And parrying this and other suggestions, he said' When I see my lord the king where I can defend myself, I shall not avoid him;' for he did not want to fight in an unfavourable place.
Angered by this ridiculous reply, the French 'as if the luck of place gives rise to wars' (Lucan, Pharsalia, IV, 661-2) rushed to arms, as did the Normans. And while each army hurried towards the river, only the impossibility of crossing prevented the great disaster of an immense massacre. Therefore they spent the day in negotiations, and that night the Normans went back to Gisors, our army to Chaumont. But as soon as the first rays of dawn chased the stars from the sky the French, remembering the the previous day's injuries, their martial ardour at morning high pitch, set off on their fastest horses and near Gisors rushed into battle, deploying wonderful fierceness and marvellous courage. They pushed the tired Normans through the gate, and strove to demonstrate the great superiority of those long used to war over those softened by long peace.
These and similar incidents were the preliminaries of a war which lasted for almost two years, and which harmed the king of England more because, at great expense, he surrounded all the frontiers of Normandy as far as the duchy extended with great garrisons for the defence of the land. The king of France relied on ancient fortifications and natural defences and the valiant assistance, given freely, of the Flemish and the men of Ponthieu, the Vexin and other frontier regions. Thus he ceaselessly attacked Normandy, pillaging and burning it. When William, the English king's son, performed homage to King Louis, by a particular act of grace Louis added that castle to his fief and restored him to his former favour on that occasion.
But before this happened, this singular conflict entailed much loss of life, which was punished with reprisals.
How William, his brother-in-law, committed treason against Guy at Roche-Guyon; of Guy's death and the prompt revenge taken against William.
On a sharp promontory above the bank of the great river Seine there stands a frightening and looming castle called la Roche-Guyon, carved out of a high rock so as to render its exterior invisible. The adroit hand of hand of its builder had created in the slope of the mountain, by breaking the rock, living quarters of good size, entered through a small and mean hole. One would take it for a seer's grotto in which the oracles of Apollo are produced, or the cave of which Lucan spoke: 'For although the prophet of Thessaly did violence to the fates, it is not known whether, when she looked on the shadows of the Styx, she had called them up, or had descended to find them.' (Pharsalia, VI, 651-53.) Perhaps it is the route to the underworld.
The possessor of this wicked fortress, hateful alike to gods and men, was Guy, a young man imbued with goodness, breaching the evil tradition of his ancestors, who had decided to lead an honourable life, free from their wretched hunger for rapacity. But overcome by the evil inherent in that ill-fated place, he was most wickedly betrayed by his wicked brother-in-law and beheaded, thus losing through untimely death both the place and his life. His brother-in-law William, a Norman by birth, was a traitor without equal; he passed for Guy's closest and most intimate friend, but he 'travailed with iniquity and hath conceived mischief' (Psalm 7, 14). At dawn one Sunday, he found the opportunity for his crime. He came early to the church in the cleft of the rock next to Guy's home, with the more devout worshippers; but he was unlike them in wearing mail beneath his cloak and being accompanied by a handful of traitors. While the others were praying he pretended to do so for a little as he calculated how to get to Guy. Then he flung himself at the entrance through which Guy was hastily coming into the church, drew his sword, and with his appalling companions gave himself up to the frenzy of his hatred; Guy was careless and would have smiled at him had he not seen the sword; William struck him, slew him and left him to perish.
At the sight, his noble wife was stupefied, tore her cheeks and hair like a woman distracted, rushed to her husband, careless of the danger, and threw herself on his body crying: 'Vile murderers, slay me in my misery, for I deserve death more than he did.' Lying on her husband's body intercepting the blows and wounds aimed at him by the swordsmen, she asked, 'O dearest husband, how did you injure these men? Were you not, as brothers-in-law, the closest of friends? What is this madness? You are consumed by fury.' When they dragged her off by her hair, her whole body was hacked, wounded and bloody. They murdered her husband in the most appalling way and then, finding her children, they killed them by dashing their heads against the stones with wickedness worthy of Herod.
While they revelled in frenzy here, there and everywhere, the prostrate woman raised her wretched head, saw her husband's beheaded corpse, and seized by love, despite her weakness she dragged her blood-soaked self across the floor like a serpent to her dead body and, as best she could, kissed him as if he were alive, then broke into a mournful chant, making her grief the best possible sacrificial offering for the dead. 'O dearest husband, what have you left me? Surely your praiseworthy continence towards me did not deserve this? Surely this is not the proper accompaniment to your renunciation of your father's, grandfather's and great grandfather's evil ways? Is this what you get for not plundering your neighbours and the poor, even though there was want at home?' And no-one could separate her half-dead body from her husband's corpse, both soaked in the same blood.
But at least, after he had exposed them to public view as if they were pigs, the wicked William, sated in human blood like a wild animal, allowed his rage to subside. He appreciated with rare admiration the rock's strength, and somewhat later began to consider how he could most forcefully plunder roundabout, how he could at will strike fear into the hearts of the French and Normans. Then he put his mad head out of the window and called the inhabitants of the land, and ignorant of any good, he promised them evil if any adhered to him. Not one single man came over to him.
But in the morning the news of such a great crime spread not only in the neighbourhood but also to remote places. The men of the Vexin, vigorous and skilled in arms, were much agitated by it and, each according to his strength, collected together an army of knights and foot-soldiers. Fearing lest Henry, the most powerful king of the English, should assist the traitors, they hastened to the rock, posted large numbers of knights and foot-soldiers around the slope to stop anyone from going in or out, and to prevent help coming, they blocked the route to Normandy with the bulk of the army. Then they sent to King Louis news of the plot and a request for orders.
Drawing on his royal power, Louis ordered that the plot be punished by the most long-drawn out and shameful of deaths, and promised help if they needed it. As the army surrounded William for days, growing larger each day, that wicked man began to be seized by fear. Having considered what he had done by the devil's persuasion, on the devil's advice he summoned several of the noblest among the men of the Vexin and, in order to remain at peace on the rock, he offered them an alliance, swearing to serve the king of France most faithfully, and making many other promises. They rejected this and, intent on vengeance against the traitor whose courage was already failing, they pressed him so hard that he agreed to hand over to them the fortress he had seized, on condition that they swore to allow him some land and security in which to withdraw to it. After this arrangement had been sworn to, a few or more French were received in the castle.
The question of the land delayed their departure until the next day; then in the morning some others besides those who had sworn entered, then others followed them; and those outside set up a great roar, demanding that the traitors be taken out, or that those who sheltered them be condemned to the same fate as the traitors themselves. Those who had sworn struggled against both rashness and fear and resisted; those who had not sworn rushed against them, attacked them at sword-point piously murdered that impious traitors mutilating some, disembowelling others painfully, and tortured them with every kind of cruelty, thinking themselves too kind. There can be no doubt that the hand of God exacted this swift vengeance. Men were thrown out of the windows dead or alive, bristling with innumerable arrows like hedgehogs, they waved about in the air on the points of the lances, as if the very earth had rejected them. For the unparalleled deed of William they discovered a rare vengeance; for he who in life had been heartless had his heart cut out of his dead body. When they had taken it from his entrails, all swollen with fraud and iniquity, they put it on a stake and set it up for many days in a fixed place to demonstrate the punishment for crime.
His body and those of some of his companions, were placed on hurdles tied with cords and ropes, and sent sailing down the Seine so that, if nothing stopped them floating down to Rouen, the Normans should see the punishment incurred by his crime, and also so that those who had briefly fouled France with their stink should in death continue to foul Normandy, their native soil.
How he seized the castles of Mantes and Montlhery from his brother Philip, despite Philip's resistance.
The rarity of good faith means that evil is more often returned for good than good for evil. To do the latter is godlike; to do the former is neither godlike nor human; but it happens. This evil characterised Philip, King Louis's half-brother born of the countess of Anjou. At the instance of his father, whom he never opposed, and also through the seductive flattery of his most noble and beguiling step-mother, Louis had arranged that Philip should obtain the honour of Montlhéry and Mantes, in the very heart of the kingdom. Philip, ungrateful for these great benefits, and trusting in his noble birth, presumed to be recalcitrant. For his uncle was Amaury de Montfort, a brilliant knight and most powerful baron, while his brother was Fulk, count of Anjou, later king of Jerusalem. His mother, even more powerful, was a heroic woman, particularly skilled in all the astonishing female arts by which women boldly tread their husbands under their feet after they have tormented them with many injustices. She so mollified the count of Anjou, her first husband, that although he was totally excluded from her bed, he respected her as his wife, often sat on a stool at her feet, and obeyed her will in everything, as if by a sorcerer's power. One thing united and buoyed up the mother, her sons and the whole family, the expectation that if some chance misfortune should befall the king, one of these two brothers would succeed him, and thus the whole clan would with great satisfaction raise itself to the throne to take part in the royal honour and lordship.
So when Philip, though frequently summoned, imperiously refused to appear at a hearing or judgement before the royal court, Louis, worn out by his depredations against the poor, his attacks on churches and the disorder he inflicted on the whole countryside, promptly though unwillingly took up arms against him. Philip and his allies, with a strong force of men, had often boasted that Louis would be repulsed; yet they timidly abandoned the castle's outworks. The mail-clad king easily rushed into them and hastened through the middle of the castle to the keep, which he besieged with siege engines, mangonels and trebuchets, until, not immediately but after many days, he forced them to surrender because they despaired of their lives.
Meanwhile Philip's mother and his uncle Amaury de Montfort, fearing the loss of the other honor of Montlhéry, conferred it on Hugh de Crécy and married him to Amaury's daughter. Thus they hoped to put in the king's path an insuperable obstacle. For the castles of this honour with those of Guy de Rochefort, Amaury's brother - Amaury's power stretched without interruption into Normandy - would bar the king's path; and in addition to the injuries they could inflict on him every day as far as Paris, they would bar his access to Dreux. Immediately after his marriage Hugh rushed to Montlhéry; but the king followed him even faster; they very hour, the very minute in which he heard the news, he most boldly flew to Charres, the chief town of that honour.
Louis was able to attract the best men of that land through the hope of his liberality and his proven mercy, which might spare them from their long-accustomed fear of cruel tyranny. Both antagonists stayed there for several days, Hugh planning to gain the seigneury, the king to prevent him. Then since one deception leads to another, Hugh was tricked in this way: Milo de Bray, son of the great Milo, advisedly turned up at once, seeking the honour on grounds of hereditary right. He threw himself at the king's feet, weeping and lamenting, till by his many prayers he prevailed upon the king and his counsellors. He humbly begged that the royal munificence would give him back the honour and restore his paternal inheritance, on condition that Milo would be almost the king's serf or his tenant, subject to his will. The king condescended to answer this humble prayer, called the inhabitants of the town to him and offered them Milo as their lord, consoled them for their past sufferings and inspired in them as much joy as if he had brought the moon and stars out of heaven for them. Without delay they ordered Hugh to come out and threatened that if he did not they would kill him at once, since against their natural lord promises and oaths counted for nothing; what mattered was strength or weakness.
Stupefied by this, Hugh took to flight, thinking that he had escaped without losing his belongings; but the brief joy of his marriage he had brought on himself the lasting shame of a divorce, along with the loss of many horses and much furniture. He learned from his shameful expulsion what it meant to take arms against the king with the king's enemies.
How he captured Hugh and ruined the castle of Le Puiset
As the pleasant fruit of a prolific tree recovers its sweet-smelling savour either by the transplantation of a twig or by the grafting of a branch, so the sucker of iniquity and wickedness which ought to be rooted out passes by many wicked men to twine itself round one man, in the same way as a snake among the eels torments men with its native poison as bitter as absinthe. Like these was Hugh de Puiset, a wicked man rich only in his own and his ancestors' tyranny,
when he succeeded his uncle Guy in the honour of Le Puiset, his own father having with astonishing conceit taken arms in the first Jerusalem journey. His father's son, Hugh took after him in all wickedness, but 'those whom his father chastised with whips, he chastised with scorpions.' (II Chronicles, 10, v.11).
Swollen with pride because he had oppressed most cruelly the poor, the churches and the monasteries and yet been unpunished, he reached the point where 'the evil-doers have fallen; they have been driven forth and cannot stand.' (Psalm XXV,13 ). Since he could not prevail against the King of kings, nor against the king of the French, he attacked the countess of Chartres and her son Thibaud, a handsome young man and skilled in arms. He ravaged their land as far as Chartres, pillaging and burning it. The noble countess and her son sometimes attempted revenge as best they could, though belatedly and inadequately; but they never or almost never got within eight or ten miles of Le Puiset. Such was Hugh's insolence, such the force of his imperious pride that many served him although few loved him. But if many defended him, more hoped for his destruction; for he was more feared than loved.
When count Thibaud realised that he was achieving little against Hugh on his own, but might achieve much with the king, he hastened to Louis with his most noble mother, who had always served the king faithfully, to try to move him with their prayers, claiming that they had deserved his assistance through many services, and recounting the crimes of Hugh, his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather. 'O king, remember, as royal majesty should, the shameful affront Hugh inflicted upon your father Philip when, in breach of his homage, he wickedly repulsed him from Le Puiset while Philip was attempting to punish his many crimes. Proud of his wicked relations, by criminal conspiracy he drove the king's army back to Orleans, captured the count of Nevers, Lancelin of Beaugency and about a hundred knights, and even in an unprecedented move dishonoured several bishops by keeping them in chains.'
Thibaud then added a lengthy explanation of how and why the castle had come to be built fairly recently by the venerable queen Constance in the middle of land dedicated to the saints, to protect it, and how afterwards Hugh's family had seized it all and left the king with nothing but injuries. But now, since the sizeable armies of Chartres, Blois and Chateaudun on which he customarily relied not only would not help him but even would fight against him, it would be easy for the king, if he wished, to ruin the castle, disinherit Hugh and avenge his father's injuries. If he did not wish to punish Hugh, either for his own or for his faithful servants' injuries, he ought either to accept the gift for the oppression of churches and the depredations of the poor, the widows and the orphans which Hugh inflicted on the land of the saints and its inhabitants, or he ought to prevent them from occurring. The king was so moved by these and similar complaints that he named a day to take counsel on the affair. I went to Melun, along with many archbishops, bishops, clerks and monks, whose lands had been ravaged by Hugh, more rapacious than a wolf. They cried out and fell at Louis' still unwilling feet, begging him to put an end to the brigand Hugh's limitless rapacity; to seize back from the dragon's maw their prebends established by the munificence of kings in the fertile lands of Beauce for the support of God's servants; to attempt to liberate the lands of the priests which even under the cruel domination of the Pharaohs had been unique in their freedom; they begged that as God's vicar, bearing in his person God's life-giving image, the king should restore the church's goods to liberty.
He received their petition with good grace and in no way took it lightly. Then the prelates, the archbishop of Sens, the bishop of Orleans, and the venerable Ivo, bishop of Chartres, who had been imprisoned by force and held captive for many days in that castle, went home; and the king, with the consent of my predecessor abbot Adam of blessed memory, sent me to Toury, a rich and well-provisioned though unfortified vill in Beauce, belonging to St. Denis, of which I was in charge. He ordered that, while he summoned Hugh to answer these charges, I should provision the town, then attempt to gather as large a force as possible from his men and ours to prevent Hugh from burning it; then the king would fortify it and, like his father, attack the castle from there.
With God's help I was able to fill it quite quickly with a force of knights and foot-soldiers. After Hugh had absented himself from the trial and been condemned by default, the king came to me at Toury with a great army to claim from Hugh the castle he had forfeited. When Hugh refused to leave it, the king without delay hastened to attack the castle, using both his knights and his footsoldiers. You might have seen a host of catapults, bows, shields and swords; it was war. And you might have admired the rain of arrows from one side then the other; the sparks which shot out from the helmets under pressure of repeated blows; the amazing suddenness with which shields were broken or holed. As the enemy were pushed through the castle gate, from the inside, high up on the ramparts, a remarkable shower fell on our men, terrifying and almost intolerable to the bravest of men. Hugh's forces began the counter-attack by pulling down beams and throwing stakes, but they could not complete it. The royal soldiers on the other hand fought with the greatest bravery and strength of body and mind; even when their shields were broken they took cover behind planks, doors or any wooden objects they could find, as they pressed against the gate. I organised carts piled high with dry wood mixed with grease, a very inflammable mixture; for the enemy were excommunicated and all given over to the devil. Our men dragged the carts to the gate both to light an inextinguishable fire and to protect themselves behind the piles of wood.
While they were dangerously attempting some of them to light the fire, others to extinguish it, Count Thibaud at the head of a large army of knights and foot-soldiers assaulted the castle on the other side, that is the side near Chartres. Remembering his injuries he hastened to penetrate it and encouraged his men to climb up the steep slope of the rampart, but he then grieved to see them coming, or rather falling, down even faster; those whom he had forced to creep upwards cautiously and on their stomachs he saw being thrown over on their backs and pushed down carelessly, as he tried to find out whether they had died under the weight of stones thrown after them. The knights who were riding round the keep on their swiftest horses came inopportunely on those who had crawled up the palisade on their hands, struck them, cut off their heads and flung them down from the top of the ditch.
With broken hands and paralysed knees they had almost halted the assault, when the strong, rather the omnipotent, hand of God intervened to ensure that this great and just vengeance should all be ascribed to him. Since the parish militias of the country were there, God excited the courage of a certain bald priest and made it possible for him, contrary to human opinion, to achieve what the armed count and his men had found impossible. Covering himself with the cheapest of planks and bareheaded, he climbed rapidly upward, came to the palisade and, hiding under the overhang which was well suited to it, he gradually pulled the palisade apart. Pleased that he was working undisturbed, he made a signal to the hesitant and those standing idle in the fields that they should help him. Seeing an unarmed priest bravely throwing down the palisade, the armed men rushed in, applied to it their axes and any iron implements they could find, cut it down and completely broke it. Then, as a miraculous sign of divine judgement, as if they had brought down the walls of a second Jericho, as soon as they had broken down the barriers, the armies of the king and the count entered. Thus a good many of the enemy, unable to avoid hostile attacks on either side, were captured as they rushed hither and thither, and were seriously wounded.
The rest, including Hugh himself, seeing that the interior of the castle and its surrounding wall could not offer safety, withdrew into the wooden tower that crowned the motte. Almost immediately, terrified by the menacing spears of the pursuing army, Hugh surrendered and was imprisoned in his own home with his men and, wretched in his chains, he recognised how much pride goes before a fall. When the victorious king had led off the noble captives as fit booty for the royal majesty, he ordered that all the castle's furniture and its riches should be publicly sold and the castle itself consumed by fire. The burning of the keep was delayed for several days because count Thibaud, forgetful of the great good fortune which he could never have achieved on his own, was plotting to extend his boundaries by erecting a castle at a place called Allaines within the lordship of Le Puiset which had been held in fief of the king. When the king formally refused to allow this, the count offered to provide proof by his procurator in that part, Andrew of Baudement; the king said he had never agreed to anything of the sort, but offered reason and judicial combat in the person of his steward Anselm, wherever the champions thought safe. Since they were both valiant men they often asked that a court be convened for this battle; but they never obtained one.
When the castle had been ruined and Hugh shut up in the keep of Chateau-Landon, Count Thibaud, strengthened by the assistance of his uncle Henry the English king, started a war against King Louis with his allies, disturbed the land, seduced the king's barons with promises and gifts, and detestably plotted what evil he could against the state. But the king, an excellent knight, took frequent revenge on him and harassed his lands supported by many other barons, especially his uncle Robert, count of Flanders, a remarkable man, famous among Christians and Saracens for his skill in arms since the first Jerusalem journey.
One day, as the king was leading an expedition against the count, he saw him in the city of Meaux. In fury Louis attacked him and his men, fearlessly he followed the fugitive across the bridge and with count Robert and the other great men of the kingdom he threw them at sword point into the waves. When they themselves fell in you would have seen this unencumbered hero moving his arms like Hector's, launching gigantic attacks on the trembling bridge, pressing forward to the perilous entrance in order to occupy the city despite its numerous defenders; and not even the great river Marne would have prevented him from doing so, if the gate across the river had not been locked.
He enhanced his reputation for valour with an equally brilliant exploit when, leading his army out of Lagny, he met Thibaud's troops in the beautiful plain of meadows beside Pomponne; he attacked them and put them to flight at once under the pressure of his repeated blows. Fearing the narrow entrance of a nearby bridge, some of them, thinking only to save their lives, were not afraid to throw themselves into the water at grave risk of death; others, treading each other under foot in their efforts to get to the bridge, threw off their arms and, more hostile to each other than were their enemies, all tried to go across at once, though only one man at a time could make the journey. And while their tumultuous push plunged them in confusion, the more they hurried the more they were held up, and so it came about that 'the first was last and the last became first.' But as the approach to the bridge was surrounded by a ditch, it offered them some shelter, because the king's knights could only follow them one by one, and even that could not be achieved without great loss since, although many pressed in, only a few could reach the bridge. Whichever way they entered, they were as often as not upset by the milling crowd of both armies, fell on their knees in spite of themselves, and as they hastily got up, pushed others down. The king in hot pursuit with his own men, brought about great carnage; those he struck he demolished he flung into the river Marne, either by sword blow or by a push from his powerful horse. Those who had no arms floated on account of their lightness; but those who were mailed were instantly dragged down by their own weight. Before their third immersion they were saved by their own companions, though after the shame of rebaptism, if one can talk like this.
By these and other injuries the king exhausted the count; he devastated all his lands, both in Brie and in Chartres, making no distinction between the times when the count was present and those when he was absent. Because the count was apprehensive over the fewness and lack of energy of his men, he tried to draw the king's men away from him, bribing them with gifts and promises and holding out the hope that, before he made peace with Louis, he would obtain satisfaction on their behalf for various grievances.
Among those he attached to himself were Lancelin of Bulles, lord of Dammartin, and Pagan of Montjay, whose lands, situated at a fork in the road, offered a secure access for the harassment of Paris. For the same reason he seduced Raoul of Beaugency, whose wife, the daughter of Hugh the Great, was the king's first cousin. Preferring expediency to honour and tormented by great anxiety, - need makes the old wife trot, as the proverb runs - Thibaud joined his noble sister in incestuous marriage with Milo de Montlhéry, to whom the king returned the castle as we have previously said.
This done, he interrupted the lines of communication and restored in the very heart of France the old endless sequence of storms and wars. With Milo he gained his relation Hugh of Crécy, lord of Chateaufort, and Guy of Rochefort, thus exposing the country of Paris and Etampes to the ravages of war, had the knights not prevented it. While access across the Seine to Paris and Senlis lay open to count Thibaud with the men of Brie and to his uncle Hugh with the men of Troyes, Milo had access from this side of the river; thus the inhabitants lost the chance of helping each other. The same was true for the men of Orleans, whom those of Chartres, Chateaudun and Brie kept at a distance with the help of Raoul of Beaugency and with no opposition. The king nevertheless often put them on their backs, although the wealth of England and Normandy was poured forth unsparingly against him. For the famous King Henry attacked Louis' lands with all his strength and all his effort. But he was no more beaten down than if 'all the rivers together threatened to take their waters from the sea,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, V, 366-337.)
How Hugh was set free.
Meanwhile there occurred the death of Odo, count of Corbeil, a man yet not a man for he was not rational but brutal. He was the son of Bouchard, that most arrogant of counts, tumultuous leader of brigands, of such amazing pretentions that he aspired to the throne. One day, as he took up arms against the king, he refused to accept his sword from the man holding it out to him, and said insolently to his wife who was standing by him. 'Noble countess, confer this splendid sword on your noble count with joy, for he who receives it from you as a count will today return it to you as a king.' But by God's will it came about quite differently; for at the end of the day he was neither what he had been nor what he wished to be. Struck that very day by the lance of count Stephen, who was fighting on the king's side, he strengthened that peace of the kingdom by his death, and took himself and his war to the lowest pit of hell where he fights to eternity.
After the death of his son count Odo, count Thibaud, his mother, Milo, Hugh and their allies did what they could be gifts and promises to obtain his castle, in order to disembowel the king. On the other hand the king and his men, rebutting their claims, sweated with great ardour to obtain it for themselves. But it was quite impossible to do this without consulting Hugh, because he was Odo's nephew.
A day and place - Moissy, a domain of the bishop of Paris, of evident ill-omen - were appointed to settle the affair. When we met together, Hugh's decision was in part against us, and in part in our favour, for since we could not have what we wanted, we wanted what we could have. He renounced his claim to the castle of Corbeil, to which he had boasted of being the heir; he also swore to desist from all harassments, taxes and vexatious charges on all churches and monasteries; then after hostages had been given to guarantee these arrangements and after he had sworn he would never fortify Le Puiset without the king's consent, deceived by his treachery not his cunning, we went home.
Of the attack on Toury and the restoration of Le Puiset.
Very soon Hugh treated his still recent oath as a trifle, a fluid thing without shape. Exasperated by his long captivity, like a dog too long chained up who, once released, lets loose the fury conceived but contained during the long period of its imprisonment and, freed from chains, bits and tears everything to pieces, so Hugh liquified his long frozen malice, stirred it up, put it to work, and pushed it towards deception. In alliance with the enemies of the realm, Thibaud, the count palatine, and Henry, the great king of the English, when he had heard the king Louis had set out for Flanders on affairs of state, he collected together as many knights and foot-soldiers as he could, determined to take back his castle of Le Puiset, and hastened either to destroy or to subdue the country around about.
One Saturday, as he was passing the ruins of his castle on which the king had given permission for a public market, he undertook on oath - a singular deception - and in a very loud voice to guarantee it security; at the same time he suddenly threw into prison those among them whom he had learned to be the richest. Then gnashing his teeth like a wild beast and cutting to bits anything that came in his way, he hastened with count Thibaud to destroy totally Toury, a fortified vill belonging to St. Denis. The day before he had met me, and with his adroitness in trickery and evil had begged and obtained from me a promise that I would go that very day to intercede with the king on his behalf. He calculated that in my absence he could enter the vill with ease, or should it resist him, destroy it utterly.
But the tenants of God and of St. Denis entered the fortification and, protected by divine help and by the strength of the defences, resisted with strength and courage. Meanwhile I came to Corbeil, where I met the king, who had already learned the truth from Normandy; he quickly asked me who I had come, laughed at my simplicity, with great indignation explained Hugh's deception, and sent me back at once to help the vill.
While he collected an army on the road to Étampes, I went back by the straightest and shortest road to Toury, with my eyes fixed on the place from a distance, looking for the one indication that the place had not yet been captured, the three-storied tower of the fort which dominated the whole plain; for if it had been captured the enemy would at once have set fire to the tower. But because the enemy was occupying the neighbourhood, ravaging and devastating everywhere, I could not, either by gifts or by promises, persuade anyone I met to come with me.
But the fewer in number the safer. As the sun was setting the enemy, wearied by having attacked our men unsuccessfully all day, relaxed a little. Seeing our opportunity, we pretended to be of their number and in great danger we rushed through the middle of the vill; we gave a signal to our men on the ramparts, they opened the gate, and with God's help we rushed in at top speed. Rejoicing in my presence they mocked the enemy's rest, wounded them with scornful insults and, despite my reluctance - indeed my prohibition - called them back to a second assault. But the divine hand protected the defenders and the defence as well in my presence as it had done in my absence. Of our small army only a few perished of wounds, while many of their large numbers shared that fate; many of these were taken away in litters, but others were buried under a very thin covering of earth where they made meals for wolves the next day and the day after.
The enemy had not yet got back to Le Puiset after their expulsion when William of Garlande and some of the most resolute and best armed of the king's household hastened to help the vill, hoping to find the enemy in that neighbourhood so that they could demonstrate the courage of the king's militia. The lord king at once joined them at dawn. When he heard that they had received hospitality in the burg, he prepared to take revenge on his enemies with joy and happiness, because it had fallen to him to avenge by sudden slaughter and unexpected punishment the injury which had been unexpectedly inflicted. But the enemy, hearing of his advance, were astonished that he had discovered a plot so well hidden, had put off his journey to Flanders and had not so much come as flown to help. Not daring to do more, they pressed on with the restoration of the castle. But the king collected what army he could from the neighbourhood, for he was much strained by war in many places. Then on Tuesday morning he led forth his troops, planned the battle lines, nominated the chiefs, set the archers and slingers in their places and, step by step, approached the unfinished castle. Because he had heard Count Thibaud boasting that he would fight the king in the plain, with his customary bravery he got off his horse, ordered that the horses be removed and, as one armed man among many others, he inspired to courage those who had dismounted with him, calling on them not to flinch, but to fight with the greatest fortitude. Seeing him coming so bravely, the enemy were frightened, and became too nervous to leave the castle outworks. They chose timidly but cautiously to arrange their troops behind the ancient ditch of the destroyed castle and there they waited, calculating that when the king's army tried to go down into the ditch and resist from there, the well-organised battle lines would lose their order and in confusion they would waver - which is very largely what happened. In the first charge of the battle, the king's knights drove the enemy as if defeated from the ditch with great elan and slaughter, then broke their lines and pursued them pell-mell. Meanwhile Raoul of Beaugency, a man of great wisdom and valour, fearing in advance that this would happen, had hidden his troops in a part of the castle where they were concealed by the shelter of a tall church and some houses nearby. When he was his allies fleeing through the gate, he unleashed his fresh troops on the weary royal knights and did much damage. They fled in a bunch on foot, impeded by the weight of their mail and armour, hardly able to resist the well-organised line of mounted warriors. After innumerable blows and much fighting on either side, they got back with the king on foot over the ditch they had seized, and belatedly realised the superiority of wisdom over rashness; for if they had awaited their enemies in due order in the plain, they would totally have subdued them to their will.
But bewildered by the confusion of their lines, they could not find their own horses nor decide what to do. The king mounted a borrowed horse and, resisting stoutly, loudly called his men back to him, appealing to the bolder ones by name not to flee. Penned in by the enemy's wings on either side, he wielded his sword, protected those he could, pursued the fugitives and, an outstanding knight he fought brilliantly in a knight's, not a king's, capacity, although it was not entirely fitting to the royal majesty. But he could not alone, with a tired horse, prevent the collapse of his army, until his squire appeared with his own charger. Swiftly mounting it and carrying his standard before him, he charged the enemy with a few men, with marvellous courage he rescued many of his own men from captivity, caught some of the enemy in the violence of his charge and, to prevent further damage to his army, he put the enemy to flight as if the sea of Cadiz had dashed itself against the pillar of Hercules, or as if they had been kept at their distance by the great Ocean itself.
Before they got back to Le Puiset, they met an army of five hundred or more Norman knights who, had they had earlier while our army was in trouble, would have been to inflict graver losses on us. The king's army dispersed all around, some to Orleans, some to Étampes, some to Pithiviers; the king, exhausted, betook himself to Toury. 'The bull, chased from the herd in his first fight, sharpens his horns on the tree-trunks,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, II, 601, 603) and, collecting his strength in his might chest, 'Heedless of his great wound, he goes forth' (ibid, I, 212) against the enemy across the iron barriers. So the king rallied his army, stiffened its courage, revived its boldness, argued that its defeat had been owed to folly not imprudence, pointed out that any army inevitably meets with such setbacks on occasion, and tried both by flattery and by threats to make them fight even more ferociously and boldly, should opportunity present itself, in order to avenge their injury. Meanwhile both Normans and French devoted themselves to repairing the castle; there were with count Thibaud and the Normans Milo de Montlhéry, Hugh de Crecy and his brother Guy, count of Rochefort, in all thirteen thousand men, who threatened Toury with a siege. But the king fearlessly attempted to harass them night and day, preventing them from going any distance to seek food.
After a week of continuous labour the castle was rebuilt, and some of the Normans then left, but Count Thibaud remained with a large army. The king gathered his forces, ordered the siege engines to be moved, and came back to Le Puiset in strength. When he met the enemy he ground them to powder. Taking his revenge by fighting them up to the gate, he shut them into the castle and posted soldiers to prevent them for escaping. A stone's throw away there was an abandoned motte which had belonged to his ancestors; this he occupied and erected another castle on it with much labour and pain. For although the prefabricated frame of beams offered some defence, our men had to put up with the dangerous onslaughts of the slingers, the catapulters and the archers; all the worse because those who tormented them, safe behind their castle walls, threw their weapons out without any fear of reprisal for the misery they were inflicting. In their thirst for victory a dangerous conflict blew up between those within and those without. Those of the king's knights who had been wounded, remembering their injuries, strove to to inflict similar suffering, and would not hold back from this until they had fortified the castle almost built by magic with a large garrison and many weapons, convinced as they were that, as soon as the king had gone, they would have to defend themselves with the utmost courage against the assaults of their neighbours or perish wretchedly by the cruel swords of their enemies.
So the king returned to Toury and rallied his forces; then, boldly risking danger, he brought food to provision the army on the motte across the enemy lines, sometimes secretly with just a few men, sometimes openly with a force. Then the men of Le Puiset, who were so near that they could put intolerable pressure on the garrison, threatened a siege. So the king raised camp, occupied Janville about a mile from Le Puiset, and surrounded the central square with a stockade of stakes and osiers. While his army established their tents outside, Count Palatine Thibaud at the head of any army of the best men he could find from his on and the Norman troops, rushed to attack them, hoping to catch them unawares and not yet defended, then to repel and prostrate them.
The king went forth to meet them in his armour; each side fought with equal violence, heedless of lances and swords, caring more for victory than for survival, more about triumph than about death. There you would have seen an admirable feat of valour: the count's army, about three times larger than the king's, forced the king's soldiers into the vill; then the king with a few men, Raoul, the most noble count of Vermandois, his cousin, Dreu de Mouchy and one or two others, scorning to retreat timidly and remembering his customary valour, chose to withstand the heaviest charges of the armed enemy and their countless blows rather than be compelled to return into the vill, thus insulting his own courage and the royal majesty.
Count Thibaud, thinking himself already the victor, was rashly attempting to pull down the count of Vermandois' tents when, with great speed, that count rushed up, declared that up till now the men of Brie had never dared to act with such presumption against those of Vermandois, charged him and with great effort repaid him for the injury he had suffered by repulsing him very vigorously. The king's knights, inspired by his valour and his cries, fell on them; thirsting for their blood they attacked them, cut them down, put them to shame and pushed them back by force to through the gate of Le Puiset, even if it sullied their dignity. Many were captured, more slain. The outcome of battle is always doubtful. Those who had earlier thought themselves the victors were filled with filled with shame at their defeat, grieved for the captives, and lamented their dead.
While the king in his turn prevailed against them, the count slipped downwards from the top of fortune's wheel and lost strength. For he and his men had suffered long trials and intolerable, exhausting depression, while each day the king's strength and that of his supporters increased as the kingdom's barons grew indignant against the count and came to help. So Thibaud used an old would as an excuse to retire from the fray, and sent messengers and intermediaries to the king to beg humbly that he would allow him to retreat in safety to Chartres. In his kindness and more than human mercy, the king agreed to this request, although many counselled that he should not let his enemy, trapped by lack of provisions, go free, nor risk further repetition of his injuries. Both Hugh and the castle of Le Puiset were left to the king's discretion. Then the count withdrew to Chartres, deprived of his vain hope, and brought to a wretched conclusion the enterprise he had begun so happily. The king not only disinherited Hugh du Puiset, but also ordered that the walls of his castle be pulled down, its ditches filled in and the whole place flattened as if accursed.
Of Hugh's renewed treason.
Much later in different circumstances, after he had been received back into the king's favour by offering many hostages and oaths, Hugh resumed the path of deception. 'Pupil of Scylla, he excelled his master in crime,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 326.) Again he was besieged by the king, disinherited again; yet though he pierced the king's steward Anselm of Garlande, a valiant baron, with his own lance, this was not enough to make him forget his innate and habitual treason, until he took the road to Jerusalem. This did what it has done to many wicked men: it cured his enflamed evil of all its poison by taking his life.
Of the peace made the English king.
The great men of the kingdom and the religious took a hand in making peace between the king of England, the king of France, and Count Thibaud. By a just judgement those who had bound the king of England and Count Thibaud to the settlement of their own grievances, thus conspiring against the kingdom, having been exhausted by war, profited nothing by peace. They now had the chance to reflect on just what they had done to obtain the sentence they deserved. Lancelin, count of Dammartin, lost without hope of recovery the his claim on the escort toll of Beauvais; Pagan of Montjay failed in the affair of the castle of Livry; one month he bitterly lamented the destruction of its fortifications, and the next he was it completely restored to greater strength through the money of the English king. Milo of Montlhéry grieved and groaned when his very gratifying marriage to the count's sister was annulled on grounds of consanguinity; the marriage had brought him less honour and joy than the divorce brought him shame and unhappiness. Men judged that all this was well done, in conformity with the canonical authority which states: 'Any obligations contracted for the purpose of breaking the peace shall be entirely set at nought.'
How the king destroyed Thomas of Marle's castles.
Because the hand of kings is very powerful, in virtue of the right attached to their office they repress the audacity of tyrants each time they see them provoking wars, or taking infinite pleasure in pillage, in harming the poor or in destroying the churches. Thus licence is bridled which, if it remained for every unchecked, would enflamed men to yet greater madness, like those malign spirits who prefer to slay those whom they fear to lose, relentlessly caress those whom they hope to keep, and throw oil on the flames to make them burn yet more cruelly.
Thomas de Marle, the most abandoned of men, ravaged the country of Laon, Rheims and Amiens while King Louis was occupied with the wars described above and many others. The devil prospered his enterprises because the prosperity of fools usually leads them to perdition. So he devastated and devoured like a furious wolf, massacring and destroying everything; he did not spare the clergy out of fear of excommunication nor the people out of any humanity. He even siezed from the nunnery of St. John at Laon two excellent vills, and fortified with fine ramparts and high towers the two well-defended castles of Crecy and Nouvion, as if they were his own, transforming them into a dragon's lair and a robbers' cave, in order to expose almost the whole of that land pitylessly to rapine and arson.
Worn out by his intolerable vexations, the French church held a general synod at Beauvais, to promulgate there a preliminary sentence and condemnation against the enemies of Christ's true bride. But Conan, bishop of Palestrina, venerable legate of the holy Roman church, deeply grieved by the innumerable complaints of the churches and the vexation of the poor and orphans, struck at Thomas's tyranny with the sword of St. Peter, cut him down with a general anathema, deprived him in his absence of his belt of knighthood, and in conformity with the judgement of all stripped him of all honours as an infamous criminal, enemy to the name of Christian. Yielding to the prayers and plaints of this great council, the king forthwith gathered an army against Thomas. Accompanied by his clergy to whom he was always most humbly attached, he turned towards the very heavily fortified castle of Crécy, and unexpectedly seized it by the great strength of his armed forces, or rather through diving aid; then he assaulted the strong keep as if it were a peasant's hovel, confounded the criminals; piously massacred the impious and mercilessly beheaded those who had showed no mercy. Your could have seen the castle consumed as if by hell fire, and would have understood the meaning of the words: 'The whole world shall fight with him against men who have no feelings,' (Wisdom of Solomon, V, 21).
The victorious king was promptly following up his success by marching on the castle of Nouvions, when a messenger reported thus to him: 'Be it known to your serenity, my lord king, that in that wicked castle there live the wickedest of men; only hell is fit for them. I speak of those who, when you ordered the commune to be suppressed, burned not only the city of Laon but also the noble church of the Virgin with many other churches, martyred almost all the nobles of the city to punish them for having faithfully supported and assisted their lord the bishop, and most cruelly slew bishop Gaudry himself, the venerable defender of the church, not fearing to set their hands against the lord's anointed; they then exposed him naked to the birds and beasts in the square, having cut off the finger that bore the episcopal ring; finally, at the persuasion of that most wicked Thomas, they attempted to occupy your keep to disinherit you.'
Doubly furious, the king then set out against that wicked castle, and broke down those sacrilegious places worthy of all the pains of hell; in pardoning the innocent and severely punishing the guilty, this one man avenged the wrongs of many. Thirsting for justice, he condemned all the detestable murderers he found to be hanged on the gibbet and then their bodies exposed to the rapacity of kites, crows and vultures, a demonstration of the just deserts of those who did not fear to set their hands against the anointed of the lord.
When the adulterine castles had been destroyed and the vills returned to the nuns of St. John, he returned to Amiens and besieged the keep of a certain tyrant Adam of that city, who had destroyed churches and the whole neighbourhood. After a tight siege lasting nearly two years, he forced the defenders to surrender, took it by assault and totally destroyed it; and by razing it he reestablished a most welcome peace in the country, fulfilling his duty as king, who 'beareth not the sword in vain' (Romans 13, 4). Then he abolished in perpetuity the lordship of that infamous Thomas and his heirs over that city.
Of Aimon Vairevache.
Royal power ought not to appear confined to narrow limits in any part of its lands, 'for we know that kings have long arms,' (Ovid, Heroics, XVII, 166). From the frontiers of Berry there came to him Alard Guillebaud, a clever man with a silver tongue, to plead a case of most eloquently on behalf of his son-in-law. He humble begged the king to use his sovereign power to cite before his court Aimon Vairevache, lord of Bourbon, who refused all justice, and to punish him for the presumptuous audacity with which he had disinherited his nephew, the son of his elder brother Archambaud. He asked that Louis should determine by a judgement of Frenchmen what each of them should have.
The king, inspired both by love of justice and by pity for churches and the poor, for if evil wars arose from this affair the wretched poor would have to pay the penalty for other men's pride, summoned Aimon to plead his cause. But in vain. Distrusting justice, he refused to come. So, prevented neither by pleasure nor by laziness, Louis set out for Berry with a large army, went to Germigny where Aimon had a very strong castle, and began to attack it vigorously.
When Aimon saw that he could not by any means hold out, he lost hope of keeping his freedom and his castle. Seeing only one way to safety, he threw himself at the king's feet and, to the amazement of many, squirmed round time and again, imploring Louis to treat him mercifully. He surrendered his castle, delivered himself up totally to the royal discretion, and submitted to justice with greater humility than he had earlier shown pride in refusing it. The king kept the castle, took Aimon back to France for judgement, settled most justly and piously the quarrel between the uncle and the nephew by a judgement of the French or by a compromise, and with much toil and cost to himself, put an end to the oppressions suffered by many.
He often used to accomplish deeds like this to bring peace to the churches and the poor in Berry; but I have decided not to recount the rest to avoid boring my readers.
Of the resumption of war with Henry of England.
Unbridled arrogance is worse than pride; for if pride will not break a superior, arrogance will not brook and equal. As the poet said, 'Caesar could not bear to be second, Pompey to be equal first,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 125-6). And because 'all power is intolerant of sharing' (ibid, I, 93-4), Louis, king of the French, who enjoyed preeminence over Henry, king of intolerant of Normandy, always treated him as if he were his vassal. But the nobility of his kingdom and his great wealth made his inferiority unbearable to the king of the English. So he relied on his nephew Thibaud, Count Palatine, and on many of Louis rivals to disturb the kingdom and harem the king, in order to detract from his lordship.
So mutual malice revived the evil wars of earlier times. Because Normandy was Chartres lay side by side, the king of England and Count Thibaud united in attacking the nearest frontier of the kingdom, while they sent Stephen, count of Mortain, Thibaud's brother and Henry's nephew, to Brie with an army, to prevent the king from suddenly occupying that land in the count's absence. Louis spared neither the Normans nor the men of Chartres nor those of Brie. Encircled as he was by his enemies and forced by the spread of his lands to turn his attention first against one, then against the other, he nevertheless in his frequent skirmishes demonstrated all the vigour of royal majesty.
But through the noble foresight of the English kings and the dukes of Normandy, the Norman frontier had an exceptional line of defence made up of newly built castles and of unfordable rivers. When Louis, who knew this well, decided to penetrate Normandy, he approached the frontier with a handful of troops, intending to proceed very secretly. He cautiously sent ahead spies clad as travellers, wearing mail under their cloaks and with their swords at their sides, who went down the public road to the ancient town called Gasny, which could offer the French free and easy access to Normandy. The river Epte flowed around it, making it safe in the middle, but preventing a crossing for a great distance either above or below. Suddenly the spies flung off their cloaks and drew their swords. The inhabitants saw them, rushed to arms and fought them fiercely; but the spies resisted and with the utmost courage repelled them. Then, as they were beginning to tire, the king suddenly rushed dangerously down the mountain side, provided him men with most opportune help and, not without loss to himself, occupied the town's central square and the church with its fortified tower.
When he discovered that the English king was close by with a large army, as his wont, Louis summoned his barons and called on them to follow him. There hastened to him the young, elegant and aimiable count of Flanders Baldwin, a true knight, Fulk, count of Anjou, and many other magnates of the kingdom. They broke the Norman defence line and then, while some fortified the town, others pillaged and burned the land enriched by a long peace, devastating and reducing to confusion the area roundabout, an almost unprecedented occurrence when the English king was there.
Meanwhile Henry very hastily set about building, encouraged the workmen, and erected a castle on the hill closest to that in which the French king had left a garrison before he departed. Henry intended that, from his new castle, with his large force of knights and using his crossbowmen and archers, he would cut off his enemy's food supplies, distress them through their want of necessities, and bar them from his land. But the king of France played tit for tat, and returned the blow at once, like a dice player. He collected an army and suddenly came back at dawn to attack vigorously the new castle which men called Malassis. With great effort, after many heavy blows had been given and received - for in this kind of market, it is that kind of tax one pays - he forced its surrender, tore it to pieces and utterly destroyed it, and to the glory of the kingdom and the shame of its enemies he valiantly put an end to all machinations against him.
But Fortune in her power never spares anyone. As it is said, 'If fortune wills, from rhetor you become consul; if she wills, from consul you become rhetor, '(Juvenal, Satires, VII, 197-8). The English king, after a lengthy and admirable succession of most pleasing prosperity, began to decline from the high point on the wheel of fortune and was tormented by a changing and unhappy set of events. From this side the king of France, from Ponthieu, bordering on Flanders, the count of Flanders and from Maine Count Fulk of Anjou employed all their powers in causing him great trouble and attacking him will all their strength. And he was subjected to the injuries of war, not only from foreigners but also from his own men, from Hugh de Gournay, from the count of Eu and the count of Aumale, as well as many others.
As the crowning evil, he suffered from internal malice. Fearful of the secret factions among his chamberlains and serving-men, he often changed his bed and increased the number of armed guards who kept watch over him for his nightly alarms. He ordered that his shield and sword should always be laid beside him as he slept. There was a certain close friend of the king, H. by name, who had been enriched by the royal liberality, and was well-known for his power, was but to be better known for his treason. When he was caught plotting, he was condemned to lose his eyes and genitals, a merciful punishment, for he deserved to be hanged. Through these and other plots the king enjoyed no security and, renowned though he was for magnanimity and courage, he became prudent in small matters. Even in his house he wore his sword and forbade his more faithful servants to leave their houses without their swords, on pain of a fine like a forfeit at play.
At this time a man called Enguerrand de Chaumont, by nature vigorous and prudent, advanced boldly with a small number of troops and seized the castle of Andelys, after having secretly put his own men in among the garrison on the walls. Trusting in the king's help, he fortified it with great audacity and subjected totally all the land as far as the river Andelle, from the river Andelle, from the river Epte to Pont-Saint-Pierre. Confident of the support of many knights superior to him in rank, he met King Henry in the open countryside, irreverently pursued him as he retreated, and within the limits mentioned treated the king's land as if it were his own. As for Maine, when King Henry, after a long delay, decided to cooperate with Count Thibaud in relieving the men besieged in the castle of Alencon, he was repulsed by Count Fulk, and in this inglorious affair he lost many of his men, the castle and the keep.
Deeply troubled over a long period by these and other ills, he had reached the trough of misfortune when divine pity, having harshly whipped and chastised him for some time, (for although he was a liberal benefactor of churches and a rich almsgiver, he was dissolute) decided to spare him and raise him up from his pit of dejection. Unexpectedly he was raised from adversity and inferiority to the top of the wheel of fortune while, rather through the divine hand than his own, those who troubled him, once higher, were brought down to the bottom or completely ceased to exist. Thus God normally mercifully extends his hand of pity to those near despair and bereft of human help.
Count Baldwin of Flanders, whose violent attacks frequent incursions into Normandy had so troubled the king, was struck in the face by a sudden but quite light blow from a lance, while he was engaged in attacking with unbridled energy the castle of Eu and its adjacent seacoast. He scorned to look after so small a wound; but Death could. By Baldwin's decease it chose to spare the English king and all his allies.
Enguerrand de Chaumont, the boldest of men and a presumptuous aggressor against Henry, was stricken by a very dangerous isease because he had not shrunk from destroying some land belonging to the Virgin Mary in the archbishopric of Rheims. After long suffering and much well-merited bodily wretchedness, he learned belatedly what was due to the queen of heaven and died. Count Fulk of Anjou, although he was bound to Louis by ties of homage, by oaths and by many hostages, put avarice before fidelity and, without consulting the king, and with a treachery that made him infamous, he gave his daughter in marriage to William, son of King Henry and, allied with him by this bond of friendship, unjustifiably abandoned the enmity he had promised on oath to preserve.
Once King Louis had forced Normandy to be silent in his presence, he ravaged it as relentlessly with small forces as he had with large. He had become used to vexing the king and his men for so long that he despised them as so many men of straw. Then suddenly one day King Henry, having discovered the French king's improvident audacity, collected a large army and secretly approached him with his battle lines drawn. he lit fires to shock Louis, had his armed knights dismount in order that they might fight more bravely as foot-soldiers, and endeavoured prudently to take all sensible precautions for war.
Louis and his men did not deign to make any preparations for battle. He simply flew at the enemy with great courage but little sense. The men of the Vexin were in the van under Bouchard of Montmorency and Guy of Clermont, and they very energetically cut the first Norman line to pieces, made them flee the battle-field, and bravely repulsed the first line of horsemen, sending them reeling back against the armed foot-soldiers. But the French who were meant to follow them were in confusion, and pressing against extremely well organised and regulated lines, as happens in such circumstances, they could not make their charge effective, and yielded. The king, amazed at his army's failure, behaved as was usual in adversity; using only his constancy to defend himself and his own men, he retired as honourably as he could to Andelys, though with great loss to his scattered army. For some time he was cut to the quick by the unfortunate outcome of his own thoughtlessness. Then, to prevent his enemies from alleging insultingly that he no longer dared to go into Normandy, and rendered more than usually courageous by adversity, and more steadfast, as is the way with men like him, he recalled his army, summoned the absent, invited the barons of his kingdom, and informed King Henry that on a certain day he would invade his land and fight a famous battle with him. He hastened to carry out his promise, as if performing a vow made under oath. So he flung himself into Normandy at the head of a marvellous army, and ravaged it, taking by assault after a sharp skirmish the well-fortified castle of Ivry, which he burned down, and then went on to Breteuil. Although he remained for some time in that country, he did not see the English king or meet with anyone on whom he could take sufficient revenge for the injury he had suffered. So he returned to Chartres to fall on Count Thibaud, and began a savage attack on the city with the intention of burning it down; but he was interrupted by a delegation of clergy and citizens, bearing before them the shift of the blessed Virgin, who begged him very devotedly, as the principal defender of their church, to spare it through love of her, and not to avenge on his own people a wrong which had been inflicted by others. In the face of their supplications the king bowed his royal majesty, and to prevent the destruction by fire of the city and the noble church of Notre Dame, he ordered Charles, count of Flanders, to recall the army and to spare the city out of love and fear for the church. When they returned to their own land they continued to repay their momentary misfortune with a long, continuous and very harsh revenge.
Of the antipope Bourdin
About that time Paschal, sovereign pontiff of blessed memory, departed from this world to eternity. His successor was the chancellor John of Gaeta, canonically elected pope under the name of Gelasius. But Bourdin, deposed archbishop of Braga, was violently thrust on to the apostolic throne by the Emperor Henry, and with the support of the Roman people who had been bribed, he harassed Gelasius beyond bearing, and tyrannically forced him to depart from the Holy Sea. So, as popes had often done in the past, he fled to the defence and protection of his serene highness King Louis and to the compassion of the French church.
As he was much distressed by poverty, he took to ship and landed at Maguelonne, a small island possessed only by one bishop, his clerks and a small household, with a small and isolated town which was extremely well-defended by a wall from the attacks of Saracen pirates. I was sent by the lord king, who had already heard of the pope's arrival; I handed over letters, and because I offered him the first-fruits of the realm, I returned joyfully with his blessing and a date fixed for a colloquy between the two men at Vezelay.
As the king was preparing to meet him, it was announced to him that Gelasius, long sick with gout, had died, thus sparing both the French and the Romans trouble. Among the many religious men and prelates who hastened to be present at his funeral, and as venerable as any of them, was Guy, archbishop of Vienne, noble in birth as a relation of both the imperial and the royal families, but nobler still in morals. The night before he had had a vision which proved to be an accurate prediction, though he did not understand it then. He saw an important personage giving him the moon from under his cloak. When he had been elected to the papacy by the members of the Roman church present, who feared that the church might be endangered by the vacancy, he understood more clearly the true meaning of his vision.
When raised to such a great position, he gloriously, humbly but actively vindicated the church's rights, and the more skillfully dealt with the church's affairs, thanks to the goodwill and assistance of the lord King Louis and of Queen Adela, who was his niece. During the famous council he held at Rheims, he deferred a session in order to meet and negotiate for peace with the Emperor Henry's legates on the frontier at Mouzon. But when he failed to achieve anything, he excommunicated the emperor, as his predecessors had done, in full council, before the French and the Lotharingians. Then, enriched by the monies vowed to him by the churches, he made his glorious way to Rome, where he was received in pomp by the clergy and people, and happily administered the church with greater competence than many of his predecessors has shown.
But he had not been long in the Holy See when the Romans, favourably impressed by his nobility and liberality, captured and held prisoner Bourdin, the emperor's antipope, who had established himself at Sutri and had obliged all clerics passing by on their way to the apostolic see to bend their knees to him. They clothed him in untreated and bloodstained goat skins, then put this crooked antipope, or even antichrist, across the hump of a crooked camel, and led him on the royal highway through the middle of the city to publish his shame, so avenging the church's ignominy. Then, on the order of the lord Pope Calixtus, they condemned him to perpetual imprisonment in the mountains of Campagna near Monte Cassino. To keep alive the memory of such a striking act of vengeance, they had painted in a chamber of the palace a picture of him bring ground beneath the pope's feet.
While Calixtus gloriously presided over the church and tamed Italy's and Apulia's brigands, the light of the Holy See shone forth, not under a bushel but as if from a mountain top; the church of St. Peter sparkled, and the other churches, both inside the city and roundabout, recovered their possessions, thankfully enjoying them under the patronage of so great a lord. When I was sent by King Louis to discuss some affairs of state with him, I met him at Bitonto in Apulia; the pope received me honourably, out of reverence both for the king and for my monastery and by the persuasion of various companions, including the abbot of St. Germain, my colleague and former fellow student.
So after I had successfully concluded the king's business I hastened to return home. Like any other pilgrim, I received hospitality in a certain vill. After matins, as I lay clad on my bed waiting for dawn, in my drowsy state I saw a vision of myself on the high sea, drifting around alone on a small boat with no oars, tossing dangerously up and down on the waves; terrified by the wretched prospect of shipwreck, I was relentlessly interceding with God when suddenly, through divine pity, a gentle, pleasant breeze got up from the cloudless sky, turned the vibrating and endangered prow of my wretched craft in the right direction, and with incredible speed it reached the calm of harbour.
Awakened by daylight, I set off on my journey; as I went, I made a great effort to recall the vision and interpret it -- for I was afraid that the tossing of the wave signified some grave misfortune for me. Suddenly I met one of my servant boys who recognised me and my companions. Both with pleasure and distress he took me aside on my own, and told me that my predecessor, Abbot Adam of blessed memory, had died, and that I had been elected by common agreement in full chapter. But he added that since the election had been made without consulting the king, the wiser and more religious of the brothers and the nobler among the knights had been loaded with reproaches when they took the news of the election to the king for his approval, and had been imprisoned in the castle at Orleans. Out of humanity and piety I shed tears for the suffering of my spiritual father and teacher; the thought of his temporal death grieved me much, and I implored God's mercy most sincerely to save him from eternal death.
I came to myself with the consolation of many companions and by my own common sense, tormented by a triple problem: if I accepted the election against the will of the lord king though in conformity with the Roman church's dictates and by the authority of Pope Calixtus who loved me, could I bear it that my mother church, which had fostered me so tenderly at her bosom with the milk of human kindness, should be vilified and cheated by two pillagers on my account? Should I permit my brothers and friends to be shamed and disgraced in a royal prison because they loved me? Ought I rather, on these and other grounds, to refuse the election and incur great disapprobation by my rejection? I was considering sending one of my men to the pope to take his advise, when suddenly these appeared a noble Roman cleric well-known to me, who undertook an oath to do himself what I had wished to do through my own men, though I would have incurred great expense. Along with the lad who had come to me, I sent one of my servants ahead to the king, to find out and report to me how the confused affair had ended, so that I should not expose myself carelessly to Louis's wrath.
As I followed them, I felt as if I were tossing on the open sea without oars, troubled and deeply anxious about the uncertain outcome of the affair. But by the generous mercy of omnipotent God, a gentle breeze blew on the capsizing ship; unexpectedly the messengers returned to report that the king had given me his peace, had set free his prisoners and had confirmed the election. Taking this as proof of God's will -- for it was God's will that what I wanted should rapidly occur -- I arrived with God's assistance at my mother church, which received its prodigal son with sweetness, maternal affection and generosity. There I had the pleasure to find waiting for me the lord king, whose face had turned from a frown to a smile, the archbishop of Bourges, the bishop of Senlis and many other notable churchmen. To the delight of the assembled brothers, they received me solemnly with much respect; and the next day, the Saturday before the Passion I, though unworthy, was ordained a priest. The following Sunday, that of Isti sunt dies, I was undeservedly consecrated abbot before the most holy body of St. Denis.
As God in his omnipotence is wont to do, the more He lifted me from the depths to the heights, 'raising the poor man from the mire to set him among princes' (Psalm CXII, 7-8), the more humble and devoted His gentle but powerful hand made me, as far as human weakness allowed. Knowing my inadequacy both of birth and of knowledge, He mercifully prospered me, insignificant though I am, in all things; as well as the recovery of former estates of the church, the acquisition of new ones, the extension of the church on all sides, and the construction or reconstruction of buildings, the sweetest and most agreeable, the supreme favour His mercy vouchsafed to me was the complete reform of the holy order of His holy church, to the honour of the saints and especially of Himself, and the peaceful establishment of the holy rule by which men come to enjoy God, without scandal and without the customary trouble among the brothers.
This powerful display of the divine will was followed by such an outpouring of liberty, good reputation and riches from the land that even in the present time, to encourage my fearfulness, it can be appreciated to what extent I have received even my temporal reward; for popes, kings and princes take pleasure in wishing the church joy, so that a marvellous stream of precious gems, gold and silver, mantles and other ecclesiastical ornaments flows in, giving me the right to say 'with her (wisdom) all other good things have come to me' (Wisdom VII, 11). Having experienced the future glory of God, I adjure and implore the brothers who will succeed me through God's mercy and His terrible judgement, not to permit adherence to that holy rule, by which God and man are united, to grow lukewarm; to repair it when broken, to restore it when lost, to enrich it when impoverished; because, just as those who fear God lack nothing, so those who do not, even if they are kings, lack everything, even control of themselves.
The year after my ordination, in order to escape being accused of ingratitude, I went to visit the holy Roman church. Before my promotion, I have been very kindly received, both at Rome and elsewhere, at the many different councils I attended on business for my own church or for other churches. I had been willingly listened to, and had achieved more than I deserved. So when I hastened there, I was almost honourably received by Pope Calixtus and his whole curia. While I was staying with him, I attended a great council at the Lateran of three hundred or more bishops, convened to bring the Investiture Contest to a peaceful conclusion. Then I spent six months in travelling the various holy places to pray, to St. Benedict at Monte Cassino, St. Bartholomew at Benevento, St. Matthew at Salerno, St. Nicholas at Bari, and the Holy Angels at Monte Gargano. Then, with God's assistance, I returned prosperous in the favour and love the pope had shown me and bearing formal letters.
On another occasion a few years later, the pope most graciously invited me back to honour me further and, as he had promised in his letters, to promote me further; but when I reached Lucca, a city in Tuscany, I learned correctly that he had died, so I went home to avoid the ancient but always renewed avarice of the Romans. He was succeeded by the bishop of Ostia, a grave and austere man who, when he had been approved, took the name of Honorius. Appreciating that my case against the nunnery of Argenteuil, dishonoured by the shocking behaviour of its young nuns, was just, as it was confirmed by the testimony of his legate Matthew, bishop of Albano, as well as by the bishops of Chartres, Paris, Soissons and Renaud, archbishop of Rheims, along with many others, he read the mandates brought to him by our messengers of the ancient kings Pepin, Charlemagne, Louis the Pious and others concerning St. Denis's rights there. Then with the unanimous support of the curia, he restored the place to St. Denis, both because it was in accordance with justice and because the nuns' conduct was appalling; and he confirmed it.
With what valour he repelled the Emperor Henry's attempted invasion of the kingdom.
To return to my aim of honouring the king in my history, the Emperor Henry long nourished a grievance against King Louis because it was in his kingdom, at the council of Rheims, that Pope Calixtus had excommunicated him. So before Pope Calixtus's death, he collected together an army from wherever he could of Lotharingians, Germans, Bavarians, Swabians, and even Saxons although he was facing attacks from them, and pretended to send them in the other direction. But with the counsel of King Henry of England, whose daughter was his queen, and who had taken the offensive against Louis, he planned to launch an unexpected coup against Rheims and either destroy it as the lord pope had done on him at the session of the council.
When the plan was revealed to King Louis by his intimate friends, bravely and boldly he summoned a levy for which he did not wait, then he called up his nobles and explained to them the state of affairs. Since he recognised, both because he had often been told and because he had experienced it, that St. Denis was the special patron and after God the singular protector of the kingdom, he hastened to his church to implore him from the bottom of his heart, with prayers and gifts, that he would defend the kingdom, safeguard his person and repel the enemy in his customary fashion. Then since the French have the special privilege that, when their kingdom is invaded from without, they may place the saint's and defender's relics, with those of his companions, on the altar to defend them, this was done in the king's presence with solemnity and devotion. Then the king took from the altar the banner belonging to the county of the Vexin, which he held in fief of the church, and in accordance with his vow received it as if from his lord. At the head of a handful of men to protect him, he flew off against the enemy, calling on the whole of France to follow him in strength. The unusual audacity of the enemy evoked indignation and inspired in the French their usual bravery; moving everywhere it called forth knightly levies, and produced men and forces mindful of their past courage and their past victories.
From all sides we met together in strength at Rheims. So large a force of knights and foot-soldiers turned up that they seemed to cover the surface of the earth like locusts, engulfing not only the river banks but also the mountains and the plains. The king waited for a whole week for the German incursion, and after the magnates had debated the affair, this was proposed: 'Let us boldly cross to them, lest they should return unpunished from their arrogant act of presumption against France, the mistress of the lands. Their wilfulness should meet with its deserts not in our land but in theirs, which belongs to the French. Thus we would publicly return to them the evil that they plotted to inflict secretly on us.'
But others, with the gravity born of experience, persuaded them to wait longer for the enemy. When they had crossed the frontier, they could be intercepted, cut off from flight, thrown down, vanquished and slain without mercy like Saracens, their barbarous bodies left unburied, exposed to their eternal shame for the wolves and crows; such slaughter and cruelty would be justified by the need to defend the country.
Inside the palace the magnates of the realm were organising the battle lines in the king's presence and deciding which forces should be joined together to help which. They made one cops from the men of Rheims and Chalons, comprising more than sixty thousand knights and foot-soldiers; the men of Laon and Soisson, equally numerous, formed a second; those of Orleans, Étampes and Paris, with the large force from St. Denis, devoted to the crown, formed the third. In hope of help from his protector, the king joined this one, explaining: 'I shall fight both safely and bravely in this corps because, in addition to the help of our saintly lords, these are my fellow countrymen among whom I grew up well known to them; as long as I live they will help me, and if I die they will keep my body and carry it home.'
Although he was engaged with his uncle the English king in making was on Louis, the count palatine Thibaud with his noble uncle Hugh, count of Troyes, answered the call of France and made up a forth corps, while the fifth, composed of the duke of Burgundy and the count of Nevers, took the vanguard. Raoul, noble count of Vermandois, the king's cousin, outstanding both in his birth and in his chivalry, was sent to hold the right wing, with a large force from St. Quentin and the whole neighbourhood, helmeted and armed with mail. The king approved the decision that the men of Ponthieu, Amiens and Beauvais should hold the left wing. The most noble count of Flanders with ten thousand men eager for battle -- he would have tripled his army had he known in time -- was designated to the rearguard. These barons all came from lands bordering on the king's. But William, duke of Aquitaine, the noble count of Brittany, and the bellicose count Fulk of Anjou rivalled them in zeal to punish harshly the affront France had
suffered, thought the length of their journey and the shortness of the time available prevented them from having collected large forces. It was also decided that, wherever the army engaged in battle, provided the ground was suitable, wagons and carts carrying water and wine for the weary or wounded should be placed in a circle, like a castle, so that those whose wounds obliged them to withdraw from the battle could recover their strength by drinking and by applying bandages, that they might return to the fray with renewed force.
The emperor heard the news of the preparations for this great and terrifying expedition and of the service of so great an army of strong men. Using feint and dissimulation to hide the real reason for it, he fled secretly, and slunk off in the other direction, preferring to put up with the ignominy of retreat rather than expose his empire and his person, already in danger of ruin, to the harshest reprisals of the French. When the French heard this, only the prayer of the archbishops and religious could with difficulty prevent them from devastating his kingdom and oppressing its poor inhabitants.
Having gained such a great and famous victory, as great or greater than if they had triumphed in the field, the French went home. The joyful and grateful king came most humbly to his protectors, the saintly martyrs, and gave great thanks to them after God, and restored to them with devotion his father's crown which he had unjustly retained -- for by right all crowns of dead kings belong to them. He most willingly returned the external Lendit fair held in the square -- the one within the burg already belonged to the saints -- and solemnly granted, confirmed by royal precept, the whole vicaria between the limits marked by the crosses and the marble columns which were set up to resist the enemy like the pillars of Hercules. Throughout the whole time in which the army was called up for war, the sacred and venerable silver caskets in which lay the relics of the saints remained on the main altar; night and day the brothers celebrated a continuous office in their honour, and crowds of devout people and pious women came to pray for assistance for the army. The king in person carried on his own shoulders his lords and patrons, and in tears like a dutiful some he put them back in their usual place; then he rewarded them for the benefits he had received on this and other occasions, with gifts of land and other comforts.
But the German emperor was humbled by this episode and lost strength from day to day, then died before the year was out, thus proving the truth of the ancient saw: anyone, either noble or commoner, who disturbs the peace of the kingdom or the church, and causes by his claims the relics to be placed on the altar, will not survive more than a year but die either forthwith or before the year is out.
The English king had been an accomplice of the German, making war against Louis with Count Thibaud, and conspiring to ravage or to occupy the frontier bordering his lands while the king was absent. But he was repelled by one single baron, Amaury de Montfort, a man with an indefatigable appetite for was, supported by the army of the Vexin; so having gained little or nothing, Henry withdrew, his hopes frustrated.
Neither in this modern age or in antiquity has France ever accomplished a more distinguished exploit or more gloriously demonstrated its power than when, joining all the forces of its members together, at one and the same moment she triumphed over the German emperor and, in Louis's absence, the English king. After this, the pride of his enemies was snuffed out, 'the land was silent in his sight' (Maccabees I, 1, 3), and those of his opponents whom he could reach returned to their homes in grace, having given him their hands in friendship. 'Who denies his just demands yields everything to the man with his arms held at the ready,' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 3418-9).
How he restrained the count of Auvergne from attacking the bishop of Clermont.
At about the same time, the bishop of Clermont in the Auvergne, a man of upright character and a distinguished defender of his church, was struck down and battered by the pride of the Auvergnats, both a modern and an ancient phenomenon, for it was said of them, 'The men of Auvergne dare to claim themselves as brothers to the Latins' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 427). He fled to the king and explained the lamentable plight of his church, that the count of Auvergne had occupied the city and, with the complicity of the dean, had tyrannically fortified the cathedral of Notre Dame. He threw himself at the king's feet, thought the king tried to prevent him, and entreated him with supplications to free the enslaved church and to restrain this furious tyranny with the sword of the king's majesty.
Accustomed as he was to giving very prompt assistance to churches, Louis willingly took up the cause of God, despite the great expense involved. Because he could not reform the tyrant by words or letters under the royal seal, he hastened to do it by deed, collected his military forces and led a large French army against recalcitrant Auvergne. On his arrival at Bourges he met various great men of the kingdom, all owing service to the crown, and bent on wreaking vengeance on the Auvergnats for the injury done to the church and the King - Fulk, the bellicose count of Anjou, Conan, the very powerful count of Brittany, the noble count of Nevers and many others, making up a substantial force. They ravaged the enemy territory and, as they approached the city of Clermont, the Auvergnats abandoned their castles perched high on the mountain tops and came into the city for protection, because it was very well fortified.
The French mocked their naivety, and on reflection decided to postpone their march to the city, and thus forced them either to abandon Clermont for fear of losing their castles, or to stay there and consume their provisions. The French diverted to an excellent castle at Le Pont, on the river Allier. They pitched their tents round about, ravaged both the plain and the mountain sides, and as they seized the excellently fortified summits of the mountains, seeming in their boldness like giants reaching for they sky, they acquired booty in superfluity, not only of flocks but also of shepherds. They brought up siege engines to the keep of the castle, and by the force of millstones and a rain of arrows compelled them to surrender after much slaughter. When the news reached those who were holding the city, they were struck by fear, and in the expectation that a similar or worse fate would befall them, they prepared to take flight, came out of the city and left it to the king's pleasure. The king, victorious in everything, restored the church to God, the towers to the clergy and the city to the bishop, then made peace between them and the count, guaranteeing the treaty with oaths and many hostages.
But less than five years later, the peace was broken by the light-hearted treachery of the counts of Auvergne; renewed disaster struck the bishop and his church, the bishop again made his complaint to the king. Scorning to plead exhaustion from his previous futile mission, Louis collected an army even larger than the last one and went back into Auvergne. His body was already heavy, weighed down by a mass of flesh; any other man, be he never so poor, subjected to such a dangerous corpulence, neither would not could have ridden. But despite his many friends' objections, he was filled with marvellous courage and cheerfully bore the summer heats of June and August, which even young men hate, laughing at those who could not bear them. But when crossing the marshes on narrow paths, he often had to let himself be carried on the strong arms of his soldiers. On this expedition there were present Charles, the very powerful count of Flanders, Fulk, count of Anjou, the count of Brittany, an army from Normandy in tribute from the English king Henry, and enough barons and magnates of the kingdom to have conquered even Spain.
Crossing by the hazardous entry into Auvergne and the castles which barred the way, he came to Clermont. When he turned his army against the weak castle of Montferrand opposite the town, the knights who were charged with its defence were so frightened by the admirable French army so unlike their own, and so astonished at the splendour of their hauberks and helmets gleaming in the sun, that they stopped short at the mere sight, abandoned the outer defences and fled, just in time for them, into the keep and its outer bastion. But when the houses in the abandoned area had been set on fire, the flames reduced to cinders everything except the keep and its defence. That day the great hear from the sudden destruction of the town obliged us to pitch our tents outside; but the next day, as the flames died down, we took them inside.
Early that morning the king had achieved something which filled us with delight though it saddened our enemies: because our tents were pitched very close to one side of the tower, throughout the whole night they endlessly harassed us with many attacks and a constant stream of arrows and spears so bad that, despite the protection afforded by armed men posted between us and them, we had to shelter under our shields. The king ordered the excellent knight and outstanding baron Amaury de Montfort to set men in ambush at an angle to the bastion, so that they could not return to it unharmed. Skilled in such matters, Amaury and his men armed themselves in their tents and then, with all the speed of their horses they charged at an angle against the enemy, while our men pinned them down, and took some of them by surprise; these they at once sent to the king. When they pleaded to be allowed to ransom themselves at high sums, the king ordered that each should lose a hand and that thus mutilated they should be sent back to their allies within, each carrying his fist in his other fist.
Terrified by this treatment, the others left us in peace after this. While the siege machines and engines which had been built remained in place, the whole of Auvergne lay at the will and discretion of the army. Then Duke William of Aquitaine arrived at the head of a large force of Aquitanians. From the mountains where he had pitched camp he saw the French forces gleaming on the plain, was amazed by the great size of the army, in his impotence he repented of his intention to fight it, and sent messengers of peace to the king. Then he came himself, to talk with Louis as his lord. His oration ran thus: 'Your duke of Aquitaine, my lord king, salutes you many times and wishes you all honour. Royal majesty in its eminence ought not to disdain to receive the duke of Aquitaine's service, not to preserve his rights; for if justice requires the service of vassals, it also requires that lords be just. Because the count of Auvergne holds Auvergne from me, as I hold it from you, if he commits a crime I have the duty of making him appear at your court on your command. I have never prevented him from doing this; indeed now I offer to make him appear, and humbly beg you to accept the offer. To remove from your highness any cause to doubt me, I can give many suitable hostages. If the barons of the kingdom judge thus, so let it be; if they judge otherwise, let it be as they judge.' When the king had deliberated with the barons, at the dictate of justice he accepted fidelity, the oath and a sufficiency of hostages, and restored peace to the countryside and to the churches. Then he named a day to settle the affair at Orleans in the presence of the duke of Aquitaine -- a condition they had thus far refused -- a collecting together his army with honour, he returned as victor to France.
How he avenged the murder of Charles, count of Flanders.
I intend to relate his finest exploit, the most noble deed he performed from his youth to his life's end; although it ought to be expatiated on, I shall recount it briefly, concentrating on what he did rather than how he did it, in order to avoid boring my readers.
The famous and very powerful count Charles, son of the king of Denmark and King Louis's aunt, succeeded by hereditary right the brave count Baldwin, son of Robert of Jerusalem, and ruled the very populous land of Flanders both vigorously and diligently, proving himself an illustrious defender of God's church, a lavish almsgiver and a notable protector of justice. Discharging the duty of his honour, he sought several times and legitimately to bring to the judgement of his court certain powerful men of low birth who had risen through their wealth, and who were arrogantly trying to extricate their family from his lordship although they were of servile origin. They were the provost of Bruges and his relations, notorious criminals puffed up with pride, who trapped the count most cruelly.
One day Charles came to Bruges and went early in the morning into God's church; he was kneeling on the floor in prayer, holding a prayer book in his hands, when suddenly a certain Burchard, the provost's nephew, a savage fellow, arrived with other members of that wickedest of families and other accomplices in his detestable crime. As Charles was praying and talking with God, Burchard quietly slipped behind him , unsheathed his sword and gently touched the neck of the prostrate count, so that when the count raised it a little he would make a better target for the unexpected sword, then with one blow he impiously killed the pious man, and thus the serf decapitated his lord.
His accomplices in this horrifying murder who were standing around thirsting for his blood, like dogs feasting on abandoned corpses, took pleasure in hacking the innocent man to pieces, particularly rejoicing that they had been able to accomplish the evil deed they had conceived and the wickedness to which they had given birth. As if blinded by their own malice, they heaped iniquity, and massacred all the men of the castle and nobler barons of the count they could find, either in the church or outside in the castle, putting them to the sword in the most wretched way when they were unprepared and unshriven.
The assassins buried the count in the church itself, fearing that if he were brought out for mourning and burial, the people who were devoted to him both for his glorious life and for him more glorious death would be aroused to seek vengeance. Then they turned the church into a brigands' cave, fortified both it and the count's house which was next to it, procured whatever food they could and decided with the utmost arrogance to protect themselves there and thus to take over the land.
The Flemish barons who had not consented to this were shocked by so great and wicked a crime. They wept as they attended the count's obsequies in order to avoid being branded as traitors, and reported it to the lord king Louis, and indeed to everyone, for the news swept across the world. Love of justice and affection for his cousin inspired war from the English king or Count Thibaud. So he crossed courageously into Flanders, intent on using all his resources to punish the wickedest of men most cruelly. He established as count of Flanders William of Normandy, son of Duke Robert of Jerusalem, who had a claim through ties of blood. Without fear either for the barbarity of the land or for the loathsome family which had engaged in treason, he went down to Bruges, and blockaded the traitors tightly in the church and the tower, preventing them from obtaining any food other than what they had, which by divine assistance now disgusted them because it was unfit for use. For a while he wore them down by hunger, disease and the sword; then they abandoned the church the church and kept only the tower, which also guarded them.
Now they despaired of life, and their lyre was turned to mourning and their organ into the voice of them that weep (Job XXX, 31); the most wicked Bourchard left with the agreement of his companions, hoping to flee the land but found himself unable to do so, though only his own iniquity prevented him. On his return to the castle of one of his intimate friends he was seized by the king's command and suffered exquisite torture in death. Tied to the upper part of a high wheel, exposed naked to the rapacity of crows and other birds of prey, his eyes torn out and his whole face lacerated, pierced by a thousand blows from arrows, lances and spears, he perished miserably and his body was thrown into a sewer.
Bertold, the brains behind the plot, also decided to flee; but when he found he was able to wander around without restriction, he returned through sheer pride; for he asked himself, 'Who am I and what have I done?' So he was captured by his own men, handed over to the king's judgement and condemned to a well-merited and wretched death. They hanged him from a gibbet with a dog and as the dog was struck it took its anger out on Bertold, chewed his whole face and, horrible to relate, covered him with excrement; so, more miserable than the most miserable of men, he ended his wretched life in perpetual death.
The men the king had besieged in the tower were forced by many hardships to surrender. In front of their relations Louis had them thrown our one by one from the top of the tower to crush their skulls. One of them called Isaac had been tonsured in a monastery to avoid death; Louis ordered him to be defrocked and hanged on a gibbet. Thus victorious at Bruges, the king rapidly led his army to Ypres, an excellent castle, to take vengeance on William the Bastard, who had fomented the treason. He sent messengers to the people of Bruges and brought them around to his side by threats and flattery. Then as William barred his way with three hundred knights, half the royal army rushed against him and the other half went off at an angle and boldly occupied the castle by way of its other gate. The king kept it, William lost all claim to Flanders, and was banished. Because he had aspired to gain Flanders through treachery, it was right that he should gain nothing whatever in Flanders.
Flanders was washed clean and almost rebaptized by these various forms of revenge and the great outpouring of blood. So having installed William the Norman as count, the king returned to France, victorious by God's help.
How he made an end of Thomas de Marle.
On another occasion he wreaked a similar vengeance, equally pleasing to God and equally renowned, on Thomas de Marle, a pernicious man who persecuted the church without respect for God or man. By the strength of his arm Louis snuffed him out like a smouldering brand.
Moved by the complaints and lamentations of the churches, he came to Laon to take revenge. At the instigation of the bishops and magnates, and especially on the advice of the most noble count of Vermandois, Raoul, who was the most powerful man in that area after the king, it was decided that he should lead the army against Thomas at Coucy. As he was hurrying towards the castle, those who had been sent ahead to find a suitable means of access reported that it was completely impregnable and inaccessible. Although he was pressed by many people to change his plan in the light of what he had heard, the king scorned to do so, saying with spirit: 'This strategy was laid down at Laon. I shall not change what was decided there, either for life or for death. The magnificence of the royal majesty will justly be cheapened if we are mocked for having fled through fear of a wicked man.'
He spoke, and despite his corpulence, set off with astonishing enthusiasm on precipitous roads obstructed by woods, cutting his way through with his army until he arrived close to the castle. At that moment Count Raoul, who was scouting on the other side of the castle, was told that ambushes had been prepared for the army, and the catastrophe was imminent for them. At once Raoul armed himself, and set out along a secret path in that direction with a few companions; he sent some of his men on ahead, then seeing that Thomas had already been struck and fallen, he spurred on his horse, charged him and boldly struck him with the sword, inflicting a mortal wound. If he had not been restrained, he would have repeated it. Captured and bleeding to death, Thomas was brought before King Louis and taken on his orders to Laon, with the approval of almost everyone, both his men and ours.
The following day his lands in the plain were confiscated and his palisades broken down, but Louis spared the land because he held its lord. The king then went back to Laon. But neither his wounds not imprisonment nor threats nor prayers could induce that abandoned man to give back the merchants whom he held in prison, and whom he had deprived them of all their possessions in shocking violation of his duties on the highway. When with the royal permission he summoned his wife, he seemed more grieved by being compelled to release the merchants than to lose his life. As the appalling pain of his wounds brought him to death's door, he was implored by many people to confess and take the last rites, but would scarcely consent. When the priest had brought the body of the Lord into the chamber where the wretched man lay, it seemed as if even the Lord Jesus could not bear to enter the miserable shell of that insufficiently penitent man, for as soon as the wicked man raised his neck, he let it fall back broken, and breathed out his hideous spirit without having taken the Eucharist. The king disdained to proceed further against a dead man or a dead man's lands, so he extorted from Thomas's wife and children freedom for the merchants and the greater part of his treasure; then, having restored peace to the churches by the death of the tyrant, he returned victorious to Paris.
On another occasion, there arose between the king and the illustrious Amaury de Montfort, a great dispute about the seneschalship, which Stephen of Garlande fanned and both the English king and Count Thibaud encouraged by their assistance. With a hastily gathered army the king besieged the castle of Livry, brought up the siege engines, and by dint of frequent assaults and aggressions, he very courageously stormed it. And because his noble cousin Raoul, count of Vermandois, the swiftest in attack, had lost an eye from a crossbow bolt, he totally flattened the castle which had been very strong. But he so impressed them by this great act of war that they gave up the seneschalship and all hereditary claim to it, leaving it in peace. In this war the king, great soldier as he was and always prompt to take action against the enemy, was pierced in the leg by a bolt from a crossbow. Although seriously wounded he bravely made light of it, and as if enthroned royal majesty disdained the pain of a wound, he held himself stiffly, bearing it as if he had nothing to bear.
How he received Pope Innocent when he fled to him.
At that time it happened that the Roman church was deeply wounded and to the quick by schism. For when the venerable supreme pontiff and universal father Honorius went the way of all flesh, the more important and wiser persons of the Roman church, to prevent tumult in the church, agreed that the famous election should be held at St. Mark's and not elsewhere, and that it should be made in common, according to Roman custom. But those who had been the more regular and intimate companions of the dead pope did not dare to go there out of fear of the rioting Romans; so, before the death of the lord pope was announced, they elected the venerable cardinal of St. Angelo, the deacon Gregory, as pope. But the partisans of Pierleone met at St. Mark's, inviting the others to come there as had been agreed, and when they had learned of Honorius's death, elected in accordance with their vow the cardinal priest Pierleone, with the consent of many bishops, cardinals, clerics and Roman nobles. So they started the pernicious schism, they rent the seamless robe of Christ in two, they divided the church of God, and 'while each appealed for support to the great judge' (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 127), each party tried to win over the other, each excommunicated the other, neither waited for any judgement other than their own.
But when Pierleone's party triumphed through the help of his family and the support of the Roman nobility, the lord pope Innocent decided to leave the city with his supporters, to win over the world to his cause. So he sailed down to the shore of Gaul, and chose for the protection of his person and the church the safest and best refuge he could find after God, the most noble kingdom of the French. He sent messengers to King Louis, praying that he would aid him and the church.
As the king was the most pious defender of the church, he was at once moved by this request; he called a council of his archbishops, bishops, abbots and religious to Étampes, and on their advice made further enquiries rather on the character of Innocent than on his election - for it often happens that disturbances caused by uprisings in Rome necessitate slight irregularities in elections -- and on the advice of those men he gave his assent to Innocent's election, promising to uphold him from thenceforth. Through me he sent the pope at Cluny the first fruits of his welcome and service, and he, delighted by such assistance, sent me back with his grace and benediction to convey his thanks to the lord king.
When the pope came to St. Benedict on the Loire, the king and queen and their sons met him. Louis bowed his noble and aft-crowned head as if before the tomb of St. Peter, fell at the pope's feet, and promised for him and his church the goodwill of a catholic and devoted, effective service. Following Louis's example, King Henry of England went to meet him at Chartres, most devotedly fell at his feet, vowed to receive him and his entourage in his lands as if it were his own, and promised him full filial obedience.
While he was conducting a visitation of the French church, as circumstances demanded, he crossed over into Lotharingia. There, at the city of Liege, the Emperor Lothar with a great concourse of archbishops, bishops, and magnates from the German realm came to meet him in great pomp. In the square before the cathedral, Lothar humbly offered himself as the pope's groom. He hurried on foot towards him through the middle of the sacred procession, bearing in one hand a staff to protect him and in the other the bridle of a white horse, and led the pope along as if he were his temporal lord. And when the whole procession dismounted, he supported and carried him, making plain, both to those who knew and to the ignorant, the majesty of the pope's paternity.
So peace was established between the empire and the church. Easter was now approaching and the pope aimed to celebrate it with us in the church of St. Denis, as his special daughter church. Out of fear for God, for the mother church and for her daughter, we received him thankfully the day before Maundy Thursday, and in a solemn procession offered to God and man, greeting his arrival with hymns of exultation, we embraced him.
The Lord's supper was celebrated in our church in the Roman manner and with sumptuous largesse, known as the presbyterium. With veneration he attended the services for the holy crucifixion of the Lord, and with due honour spent the night of the holy resurrection in vigil. Very early the next morning he went out as if in secret to the church of St. Denis de l'Estrée, with a large number of companions. There they made preparations in the Roman way, they clothed him in splendid attire and set on his head a mitre like a helmet, a truly imperial adornment, with a golden crown surrounding it; then they led him forth, mounted on a white horse with a saddle cloth, while they went before him two by two, wearing rich robes, riding horses of various colours but all with white saddle cloths, and singing festive hymns. The barons who held in fee of our church and the noble castellans accompanied him on foot, holding his horse's reins like humble grooms. Men went before them throwing a shower of coins to scatter the crowd which blocked the way. The royal highway blazed with embroidered cloths attached to posts and branches. A crowd of knights in formation and masses of people received him with great honour. Everyone was there including even despite their blindness, representatives of the Jewish synagogue in Paris. When they offered him a role containing the Law, they received from him this merciful and pious prayer: 'May the omnipotent God tear the veil from your hearts.'
When he arrived at the basilica of the saints, it was gleaming with golden crowns, and shining with the splendour of precious gems and pearls a hundred times brighter than silver or gold. There the pope divinely celebrated the divine mysteries, and with my assistance offered the most holy sacrifice of the true paschal lamb. After mass, tables had been set up in the cloister covered with fine cloths, and there they took their places as if on couches, and ate the fleshly lamb, along with the other dishes that noble tables usually offer. The following day they reformed the same procession and went from the church of St. Remigius to the principal church. Then, after giving me his thanks and promising me his aid and counsel, three days after Easter the pope entered Paris. he then visited the French churches to supply his need from their abundance, and after wandering about for a while, he chose to take up residence in Compiègne.
Meanwhile a singular and hitherto unknown struck the French kingdom. King Louis's son Philip, a healthy and agreeable boy, who brought hope to good men and fear to the bad, was riding one day in a suburb of Paris when his horse collided with a devil of a pig in the road, and fell down very heavily, throwing the noble boy his rider against a stone, which crushed him to pieces under its weight. The citizens and all those who heard of it were grief-stricken -- that very day he had summoned the army for an expedition -- and they exclaimed, wept and lamented. They picked up the delicate boy almost at death's door and took him to a nearby house where at nightfall, alas, he died. Even Homer himself would not have been able adequately to express the extent and depth of grief and sadness that swept over his father and mother and the magnates of the kingdom.
He was buried as a king in the church of St. Denis, in the royal tomb on the left of the altar of the Holy Trinity, in the presence of a large assembly of bishops and magnates of the realm. After grief-stricken plaints and miserable lamentations that he should be the survivor, his wise father allowed himself to be consoled, in accordance with the advice of religious and wise men. As his close and intimate friend, I feared that the continued suffering of his weak body might lead to sudden death; so I counselled that he should crown his son Louis, a very fine child, have him anointed with the sacred oil, and make him king with him, in order to prevent any disturbance from his rivals. Louis agreed and went to Rheims with his wife and son and the barons of the kingdom. where in a full and solemn council called by Pope Innocent, his son was raised to royalty by sacred unction and coronation, and thus he provided his realm with a fortunate successor. Many saw it as an excellent omen that the young Louis's power would increase, since he had received the lavish benediction of so many great and different archbishops and bishops of France, Germany, Aquitaine, England and Spain.
So Louis's joy in the living alleviated his sorrow over the dead. After the council was over he returned to Paris, while the pope chose to stay at Auxerre. Then an opportunity arose for him to return home in the company of the Emperor Lothar, who promised to establish him by force in Rome and to depose Pierleone. They went there together. But after Innocent had proclaimed Lothar emperor, Roman resistance prevented them from making peace in the lifetime of Pierleone. But when Pierleone died, with the help of God peace finally returned to the church after a long upset and after lengthy and almost mortal weakness. The lord pope in blessed succession enhanced the glory of the most holy see by the merits of his life and his devotion to duty.
With what courage he bore illness.
The lord King Louis was in the process of failing not in mind but in body, as men habitually do, worn out by his corpulence and by the continual strain of his tasks; for should anything offensive to royal majesty occur anywhere in his kingdom, he could not bear to let it go unpunished. Although he was sixty, he was so knowledgeable and hardworking that, had it not been for the perpetual obstacle of his swollen body, he would have overcome and destroyed all his enemies. He often groaned and complained to his friends this: 'Alas, what a wretched state of affairs! It is hardly ever or never possible both to know how to do something and to be fit to do it. If as a young man I had known how, or now as an old one were able, I should easily have subdues many kingdoms.'
But weakened as he was by his corpulence, even lying flat on his bed, he put up so much resistance to the English king and to Count Thibaud that anyone who saw him and heard of his famous deeds would praise his nobility of mind and deplore his ill health. Suffering torments, with a wounded leg, and scarcely able to be carried, he fought against Count Thibaud and ordered that Boneval should be set on fire, except for the monastic buildings which he took under his protection; another time although he was absent, his men destroyed Chateau-Renard, which was in Count Thibaud's fief; and on his last expedition, with a splendid army he set fire to the castle of Saint-Brisson-sur-Loire, because of its lord's rapacity and his depredations on merchants, and forced both the lord and the keep to surrender.
On his return from this expedition, at the new castle of Montraer, he had a very serious attack of diarrhoea, as sometimes happened, and began to be very worried. Foresighted as he was in counsel, he took care of himself and of his soul; he provided for his salvation with repeated confessions and devoted prayers, thus pleasing God. One thing he wished with his whole soul, that he should be carried by any means possible to his protectors, the saintly martyrs Denis and his companions, and before their most holy bodies should resign his kingdom and his crown, giving up a crown for a tonsure and the royal insignia and the imperial ornaments for the humble habit of St. Benedict, and thus be professed in the monastic order. Those who deride monastic poverty should see how not only archbishops but even kings prefer eternal life to this transitory one, and flee to the incomparable security and protection of the monastic order. Day by day his diarrhoea troubled him more, and in order to stop it the doctors gave him many unpleasant potions, forcing him to swallow various extremely bitter powders, which even healthy and vigorous men could not have borne. In these and similar sufferings he remained sweet-tempered and benevolent, spoke kindly to everyone, was available to all, and treated everyone as pleasantly as if he suffered no pain.
As the disease grew worse and the weakness of his exhausted body increased, he scorned to die dishonourably or unexpectedly. So he called together the religious, bishops, abbots and many priests, and rejecting all false shame, he asked that, out of respect for God and his angels, he might most devotedly make his confession in their presence and might fortify himself against his death with the most secure viaticum, the body and blood of the Lord. While they hastened to prepare, the king unexpectedly arose and prepared himself, to the admiration of all he left his chamber fully clad to come into the presence of Christ's body, and with greatest devotion he stood up. Then in the sight of them all, both clerks and laymen, he set aside kingship, renounced the kingdom, confessed that he had reigned in sin; he invested his son Louis with his ring, and obliged him to swear to defend the church of God, the poor and the orphans, to guard for each man his rights, and to take no-one prisoner in his court if he had committed no crime then and there in his presence.
Then for the love of God he distributed to the churches and to the poor and needy his gold and silver, his precious vases, his rich hangings and covered cushions, all the moveables he possessed and used, including his ornaments and royal clothes down to her very shirt. But his precious church plate, his very precious bible covered in gold and gems, his gold censer of forth ounces, his gold candelabra of a hundred and sixty ounces, his costly chalice of gold and precious gems, ten copes of precious materials, and the very precious hyacinth inherited from his grandmother, the daughter of the king of Russia, which he put with his own hand into mine and ordered that it be placed on the Lord's crown of thorns; all these he sent to the holy martyrs through me, and he promised devotedly to follow the same road if it were possible.
Delivered from this burden and filled with God's mercy, he most humbly knelt before the holy body and blood of Christ, which those who had just celebrated mass had brought there in procession with devotion. He broke out in true and catholic confession of faith with hear and lips, not like an illiterate but like a most learned theologian: 'I, Louis, a sinner, confess there to be one true God, father, son and holy spirit; I believe that of this sacred trinity one person, the only begotten son, consubstantial and coeternal with God the father, was born of the holy virgin Mary, suffered, died and was buried; the third day he arose from the dead, he ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the father. He will judge the quick and the dead in the great and final judgement. I believe that this Eucharist of his body is the same body he assumed from the virgin, and which he delivered to his disciples, so that they might remain joined and united in him. And that this most holy blood is that which flowed from his side as he hung on the cross. I believe most firmly and confess with my mouth and heart that I shall be safeguarded at my death by this most sure viaticum, and I prefer to be defended by its most certain protection from all the powers of the air.'
When, to the admiration of all, he had made first confession of his sins, he most devotedly communicated with the body and blood of Christ. Suddenly he seemed to be recovering; he went back to his chamber, and rejecting the pomp of all secular pride, he lay down on a simple linen sheet. When I saw him change from so great to so small, from so high to so low, I cried as other men would. 'Do not weep, dear friend,' he said, 'on my behalf. You ought rather to rejoice greatly that God's mercy had permitted me to prepare myself to meet him, as you see.'
With what piety he faced death.
However he gasped his way back a little to good health and was able to go in the best carriage he could to Melun, on the Seine. On the road crowds of devoted people for whom he had kept the peace came to meet him, pouring out of the castles and towns abandoning their ploughs to commend him to God. He got out of the cart and on horseback arrived very swiftly at the shrine of the holy martyrs, which he wanted to visit out of love for them, to give them his thanks. He was most solemnly and devotedly received by the brothers and almost the whole countryside as the most pious father of the church and its noble defender. He prostrated himself very humbly before the most holy martyrs, in tears he fulfilled his vow to give thanks devotedly for benefits received, and very humbly begged them to continue to look after him.
When he came to the castle of Bethizy, he was at once followed by messengers of William, duke of Aquitaine, who told him of the duke's death on his pilgrimage to St. James, and reported that before he went away to die on his journey, he had decided to place in Louis's hands the marriage of his most noble daughter Eleanor, and all his land to be safeguarded. After holding counsel with his close advisers, Louis accepted gladly and with his customary magnanimity the offer made to him, and promised to wed Eleanor to his dearest son Louis; without delay he organised a noble cortege to send there, and collected an army of five hundred or more of the best knights in the kingdom, the noblest of men, commanded by Thibaud, the count palatine, and his cousin the excellent count of Vermandois, Raoul. He added to the escort his close advisers, including me, and whomever else he could find of good judgement. As his son was leaving, he bade farewell like this: 'May the omnipotent God through whom kings reign protect you and yours with his arm, my dearest son! for if by some misfortune I lose you and your escort, I shall care nothing either for myself or for my kingdom.'
Then he handed over much wealth and a sufficiency of treasure, and forbade them on the authority of his royal majesty to steal anything in the whole duchy of Aquitaine, to harm the land or the poor, or to turn friends into enemies; he did not hesitate to order that they should give a suitable daily stipend to the army from his own treasure.
We crossed the Limousin and came down to Bordelais, where we pitched our tents opposite the city but across the great river Garonne. There we waited for the boats to take us to the city. Then the following Sunday, in the presence of the magnates of Gascony, Saintes and Poitou, the prince crowned Eleanor with the crown of the kingdom and married her. We went back through Saintes, ready to deal with any enemies there might be, and arrived in Poitiers to the great joy of the whole country.
At that time the hear of the summer was even more oppressive than usual, and for a while I was wearied, wasted and broken by it. The unbearable lassitude it produced exhausted King Louis who was in Paris, and brought on a very serious attack of dysentery with diarrhoea, which wore him out. Always well prepared for occasions like this, he summoned Stephen, the venerable bishop of Paris and Guildin, abbot of St. Victor, by whom he was confessed the more intimately because he had built that monastery from its foundations; he repeated his profession of faith, and with the greatest devotion set about fortifying himself for his departure with the viaticum of the Lord's body. But when he ordered that he should be carried to the church of the holy martyrs, to fulfill in deep humility the vow he had so often made, he was prevented by the sufferings of his condition, and so he accomplished with his heart, soul and will what he could not achieve in fact. He ordered that a cloth should be placed on the ground, and the sign of the cross marked on it in ashes, then he was laid on it by his men, and fortifying his body with the sign of the cross, he died on the kalends of August, after thirty years of his rule, when he was around sixty years old.
At once they covered his body in a precious cloth and brought it to the church of the holy martyrs for burial. As some men were arranging the burial place, something happened which ought not to be passed over in silence: the king had sometimes, indeed often, touched on the royal tombs in conversation with me, and had asserted that the man was blessed who was fir to be buried between the altars of the Holy Trinity and of the holy martyrs, for he would obtain pardon for his sins from the assistance of the saints and from the prayers of those who visited them. Thus he implicitly expressed his own wishes. Earlier, before I had left with his son, I had proposed in conjunction with Hervey, the venerable prior of the church, that Louis should be buried in front of the altar in between. But the place was occupied by Carloman, king of the Franks, and since neither law nor custom permits that kings should be exhumed, what I had proposed could not be done. However in the place which he himself, with a kind of presentiment, had chosen, the gravediggers found a piece of ground of exactly the right length and breadth for his body, as if it had been reserved for him; and this was quite unexpected, for everyone thought the place already filled. So he was buried there according to royal custom, with a great concert of prayers and hymns, and with a very solemn and devoted funeral service. There he awaits his participation in the future resurrection, even closer in spirit to the host of saintly spirits than he is in body to the holy martyrs, next to whom he lies buried to benefit from their help. 'Blessed is he who can foreknow where he will be when ruin shakes the world.' (Lucan, Pharsalia, IV, 393).
May the Redeemer, at the intercession of the holy martyrs to whom he was so devoted, revive his soul, and may he be made worthy of the company of saints through Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for the salvation of the world; he who liveth and reigneth king of kings and lord of lords throughout all ages. Amen.
This translation © Jean Dunbabin, St. Anne's College, Oxford OX2 6HS, England,
from whom all necessary permissions to reproduce must be sought